Cruelty hot-spot tag returns as man is arrested in badger baiting raid

THE District’s reputation as an animal cruelty hot-spot came to the fore once again last week when a dog with severe facial injuries was rescued following raids in the Gilford and Lawrencetown areas.

A 58-year-old man, arrested in connection with a case of animal cruelty, was been released on bail pending further enquiries following the searches on Wednesday night which targeted badger baiters.

In a statement, Inspector O’Connor said, “I have investigated a number of cases of animal cruelty. The injuries sustained by this dog are some of the worst I’ve seen.”

The searches were part of Operation Meles, an ongoing UK-wide initiative quantifying the abuse of UK badgers.

The USPCA’s Stephen Philpott said, “A team of PSNI and USPCA personnel carried out a successful overnight operation targeting badger baiters in Counties Down and Armagh.

“This resulted in one arrest, the seizure of a vehicle and the recovery of a dog bearing extensive injuries consistent with badger baiting. An extensive haul of the hardware associated with badger persecution, longhandled spades, T bars etc, was also recovered.

“Badgers and their setts are protected under law, interference with either is a crime. However, Northern Ireland’s badgers continue to suffer persecution and die as a result of the reprehensible activities of these criminal gangs. This represents an apalling abuse of both the badgers and the unfortunate dogs used to drag them from their setts.

“Our investigation provides valuable information for Operation Meles. The USPCA is committed to protect a species worthy of protection and we regard the successful operation as a breakthrough in our ongoing investigations into a crime that stains our countryside.”

Anyone with information has been asked to pass it on to the USPCA. Police are also appealing to anyone with information in relation to this incident to contact them on 0845 600 8000.