Badger-baiters guilty over dog’s maul injuries in sett

Injured terrier BlackieTWO men have been found guilty of badger-baiting during which a terrier was forced into a sett and was badly mauled.

The dog was torn around its jaw and nose after it was put down the sett in woods near Catterick, North Yorkshire.

The RSPCA took its owner, Mark Howells, 28, of Taransay Walk, Darlington, and friend Donald Blair, 30, of Walnut Avenue, Colburn, North Yorkshire, to court.

Northallerton magistrates found them guilty of animal cruelty, interfering with a badger sett and putting a dog into a sett.

They were cleared of a linked charge of putting a ferret into a badger’s sett. The pair denied all the charges.

RSPCA inspector Garry Palmer said: “I’m delighted with the outcome, as the dog suffered quite bad injuries.”

Gamekeeper Neil Clark spotted three men beside a badger sett in the woods at noon on September 20, last year, with a ferret.

They had dogs with them, but told Mr Clark no dog had been put into the sett.

Blair told the court: “We were rabbiting, not badger baiting. The rabbits were all over the place and it seemed a good idea to do it there.

“I put rabbit-catching nets over the entrance holes and then put the ferret down.

After speaking to Mr Clark, we left the woods and continued rabbiting.”

He said his dog, Blackie, was found to be missing soon after and a search failed to find him.

Blair picked up a signal from a locator collar on the dog underground at a badger sett in the woods where he dug without success.

The dog was found by a passer-by and taken to the vets.

Howells and Blair will be sentenced on January 7, but the third man has not been traced.