SIX bull terrier-type dogs were seized after police investigating fighting animals raided three homes.

RSPCA inspectors and along with specialist dog liaison officers, swooped on the properties after receiving information about suspected illegal breeds being kept for organised fights.

As well as the animals, items linked to dog fighting including treadmills, electric collars and medicines were also found following the raids in Haywood Road, Accrington, and Haslingden Old Road, Oswaldtwistle.

Four men, aged 47, 21, 43 and 57 and a 46-year-old woman were being questioned by officers on suspicion of possession of a fighting dog yesterday ((WED)).

The animals were taken to local kennels until their breed is confirmed. One was found to have suffered minor injuries.

Detective Inspector Simon Upton said the operation was about stopping animal cruelty and removing potentially dangerous dogs from the streets of East Lancashire.

He said: “We take the issue of dangerous dogs and alleged organised dog fighting very seriously and would encourage anyone with concerns to contact us.

“Keeping and training dogs for the purpose of fighting is both cruel and dangerous and will not be tolerated in Lancashire.

“Most dog owners care and look after their dogs very well but it is important to reduce the number of potentially dangerous dogs in local communities to make them safer.”

The raids were all carried out under section 23 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and searches of the premises were continuing yesterday.

Chief inspector Ian Briggs, from the RSPCA's special operations unit, said: "The operation is part of the RSPCA's on-going battle to wipe out organised dog fighting.

"The fact this barbaric activity was banned nearly 200 years ago, yet here we are today leading another investigation, shows the scale of the challenge we face.

"The sad reality is that there are people up and down the British Isles who are prepared to train and fight their dogs for their own sick entertainment.

“While these people continue to do so, we'll keep working alongside the police to try and catch them."

Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire police and crime commissioner, welcomed yesterday’s action.

He said: "There is no excuse for owning a dangerous dog and the damage an out of control animal can cause can be devastating.

"I will do everything I can to support officers when it comes to tackling dangerous dogs in the county.”

Last week, changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act came into effect giving officers greater powers to tackle irresponsible owners.

The law has been extended and it is now an offence for a dog to be dangerously out of control in all places, including inside the dog owner’s home.

Previously, the maximum sentence for an aggravated dog attack was two years imprisonment. Under the new Act, the maximum prison sentence for an owner whose dog kills a person has been increased to 14 years.

Anyone with any information about dangerous dogs should contact call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.