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Dog Fight

A Chinese company has dismissed criticism from animal lovers after organising sell-out events in which dog owners can bring their pets along and dump them in arenas where they have to fight it out with rivals to see which dog is the toughest.

The "King of the Ring" company gives a trophy to the winner after each tournament and says that after a sell-out success with their initial fights they were planning to expand the contest.

Animal lovers say it is a worrying commercialisation of a centuries old tradition that they were trying hard to stamp out.

The snaps were taken at an event organised by the company in Jishan county at Shanxi province in the north of the country where so many people turned up to watch that they were even sitting on the roofs of nearby houses.

A spokesman for the company said: "We don't have very many overheads, we rent somebody's backyard and persuade people to bring their own pet dogs along. We hope that this year we will be able to expand substantially. Like the king dogs that win our contests we have a fighting spirit and we are convinced this year will be a successful year."

Although many people have condemned the practice dogs are also regarded as a food source in China and there are several markets devoted to the speciality product. Several such as the dog market in East China's Anhui Province also include regular dog fights for visitors which have been staged sometimes for decades.

And advocates of the sport add that in fact, dog fighting has been practised in China for more than 1,000 years.

One animal rights campaigner said however that even if that were true it meant it was high time for a change.

Lu Hen who is campaigning to close the market down in Anhui told Chinese media: "People bring dogs here to sell them for meat, but before butchering them they sometimes try their luck by entering the dogs in fighting contests. A winning dog can also fetch more money for someone who plans to lay to cook it and eat it."

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