Lincolnshire has been named as one of the top 10 counties in England and Wales for animal cruelty by the RSPCA, who have released harrowing images of the aftermath of vicious dog fights in the region.
A total of 3,264 cases of animal cruelty in Lincolnshire were recorded by the charity in 2015, with dogs accounting for 1,953 of those investigations.
Nearly 800 complaints over cruelty to cats were received and there were 515 investigations into abuse of other animals in the county.
A particularly distressing case highlighted by the RSPCA involved two dogs and a ferret being used for animal fighting in Lincolnshire.
Terrier-type ‘Pip’ and bull-lurcher type ‘Jazz’ were covered in old and new wounds which a vet concluded were most likely caused by another animal when they were found in their owner’s vehicle parked on a farm track.
The owner, a 25-year-old man, was arrested by a Humberside Police wildlife crime officer who called the RSPCA.
Footage on the owner’s mobile phone showed an especially traumatic fight between a third dog and ferret.
RSPCA special operations unit inspector Cliff Harrison said: “The footage is very distressing. It shows the ferret lifted from a cage, which contains several ferrets, and put in front of the waiting dog.
“It was a fight to the death for the ferret. The footage has sound and you can hear the ferret squealing in agony.
“The owner can be heard encouraging the dog, saying ‘kill him’, and when the ferret finally expires, three minutes later, saying ‘good lad’.
“That some people get enjoyment out of something like this, and would inflict this kind of suffering on an animal for fun, even capturing it on camera so that they can re-live it, is abhorrent.”
The owner was jailed for four months and disqualified from keeping animals for life after admitting four offences relating to animal fighting under the Animal Welfare Act at Scunthorpe Magistrates’ Court in September 2015.