The Ontario SPCA is seeking court approval to euthanize 21 dogs seized after an alleged dog fighting operation was broken up last year, said Brad Dewar, an inspector with the SPCA.

Three animals were already put down in December based on the opinion of two veterinarians, Dewar said. He would not provide details about why the animals were put down, other than to say it was in their best interests.

Seeking an order to euthanize is rare, Dewar explained, and even more so when the application is for so many dogs. 

"This is only the second time I've had to request an application like this," he said. "It is not an easy decision to make."

A total of 31 dogs were seized from the alleged dog fighting operation in Tilbury East Township that led to dozens of charges against four individuals. Police said they also seized hundreds of items used to train dogs for fighting.

Dog Fighting Backyard

Chatham-Kent police and Ontario SPCA seized 31 dogs from an alleged dog fighting operation at this home in Fletcher, Ont. in October last year. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

The SPCA said the dogs have suffered injuries consistent with fighting dogs.

Defense lawyer Ken Marley, representing the four people charged in connection to the alleged operation, said his clients are not happy about the SPCA's decision.

"They're disturbed and upset that the animals have been destroyed and that the SPCA is seeking to destroy more of them," he said told CBC News.

Though SPCA officials would not give details about why they made the application, Marley said he was told the SPCA considers the animals to be dangerous.   

"They have concerns about the ability of these dogs to be rehabilitated from their behaviours and so they're perceived to be a threat to public safety," he said.