The man who stole an ageing dog to use as bait in a dog fight has been jailed for 10 months and banned from ever owning or caring for another animal.

It is the first time anyone has been jailed for dog fighting in this country and SPCA has labelled the sentence "appropriate".

William Kain Campbell, a 25-year-old process worker, appeared in Porirua District Court today after earlier admitting seven charges of dog fighting and failing to seek treatment for the injured animals.

Today he also pleaded guilty to stealing a dog today, The Dominion Post reported.

Campbell was accused of stealing a 14-year-old ridgeback-cross, named Lincoln, from Titahi Bay, north of Wellington, to fight with his cross breed dog named Dukes. Lincoln suffered serious injuries after being mauled.

Dukes has since been housed in a "sanctuary" while Lincoln is still living with his owners.

However, Lincoln is on medication from the attack and is a lot more nervous than he was previously.

Judge Geoff Ellis today described the crime as "revolting" and "despicable".

Campbell was ordered to pay reparations of $4362.47 and banned for life from owning or caring for an animal.

SPCA operations team leader Jim Boyd told NZPA the sentence was entirely appropriate. It was a deliberate, premeditated act of "abject cruelty", he said.

"People who are going to treat animals in that manner don't deserve to own them. It's a privilege to own an animal."

There were three levels of dog fighting -- a professional level, which was well organised and involved betting on the dogs, and a more impromptu kind of dog fighting, where owners pitted their dogs against each other to see whose was best. There was also a level in between the two, he said.

"This reeks of training for professional fighting. If it's not in the top scale it's not too far from the top."

The SPCA had closed down a number of dog fighting rings over the years, but the lower level of fighting still seemed to be quite active, Mr Boyd said.

- NZPA