Belfast Telegraph

Cat horror cruelty video one the vilest we've ever seen, says USPCA

BY CHRIS KILPATRICK

A LEADING animal charity described mobile phone footage of cats being slaughtered by dogs as among the vilest abuse it has seen.

The four men before Belfast Crown Court yesterday were arrested as part of a huge UK-wide clampdown on illegal dog fighting and badger baiting.

Illegal dog fights are a huge source of income for criminal gangs with thousands of pounds being wagered on each bloody contest. In order to prepare pitbulls for battle their heartless owners will blood it against other, less ferocious animals.

Following yesterday's court hearing, Stephen Philpott of the USPCA said the abuse was sickening.

"If the definition of cruelty is causing unnecessary suffering, the savagery inflicted on innocent animals in the Kirkwood case is wickedness at its worst," he said.

"It is one of the vilest examples of premeditated abuse the charity has come across in many years.

"The excellent work of the PSNI deserves recognition.

"This case warrants not only custodial sentences but cries out for life bans from owning or keeping any animal."

One of the officers who headed up investigations into the illegal bloodsports yesterday praised all the agencies involved, including the PSNI, USPCA and their counterparts in Scotland and the Republic.

"The corresponding police investigation has taken over two years and a significant amount of time and energy has been invested in bringing these individuals before the court," Detective Inspector Peter Mullan said.

Before Christmas police said they were investigating claims that a dog-fighting gang was roaming Northern Ireland stealing pets for pitbull blooding contests. The alarm was raised after pet-owners across the province reported their animals missing.

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