A Lancashire man has been jailed and disqualified from keeping animals for life after appalling videos of him setting his dogs on a cat and a fox were found.
Joseph Whittam, 28, of Langdale Road, Carnforth, was seen on the videos found on his mobile phone urging his dogs on to attack the animals, plus footage of them attacking a gerbil.
He has appeared at Preston Magistrates’ Court for sentencing having pleaded guilty to four offences under the Animal Welfare Act in relation to encouraging his two dogs – Zip and Rex – to attack a cat and a fox, as well as failing to provide veterinary attention for the dogs themselves.
The RSPCA and police raided his home in August last year after intelligence that suggested he was involved in wildlife crimes with his two dogs. The dogs – a terrier called Rex and a lurcher called Zip – were removed by police and placed into the RSPCA’s care.
A mobile phone was also seized and investigators discovered a number of shocking videos saved on the phone. RSPCA special investigation officer Jason Bowles said: “In one video, the two dogs are going crazy, barking and snapping at the mesh of a trap with a black and white domestic cat inside.
“In a second video, the cat is released along with the dogs and the dogs grab the cat and literally start to rip it apart while the cat screams and cries in pain. It is horrific and absolutely blood-curdling.
Many of our staff here at the RSPCA haven’t been able to stomach watching it. “One of the magistrates had to leave court after watching the sickening footage.
“The cat was killed although we never found the body and never traced the poor cat’s owners.
“In another video, the dogs can be seen attacking and biting a fox. In all the footage Whittam can clearly be heard encouraging the dogs and egging them on.”
Rex and Zip both had old injuries – thought to be caused by their attacks – which had not been treated. They received veterinary care and remain in the RSPCA’s care. They will be rehomed once the case has concluded.
Further analysis of Whittam’s phone uncovered images of a dog being encouraged to attack a gerbil and still images of the fox attack which show the animal being baited by the dog. Whittam claimed the fox had been shot and injured before his dogs got hold of it.
Lancashire Constabulary’s Sgt James Pinder said: “This investigation began as a result of community information in relation to animal welfare and poaching offences.
“I hope the investigation clearly demonstrates that we will work with our partner agencies and will deal with offenders in a robust manner.
“The sentence, which marks the end of a 16-month investigation, is welcomed by Lancashire Constabulary and we hope it will send a clear message to those who think it is acceptable to partake in these criminal activities.” Whittam was jailed for 22 weeks and disqualified from keeping animals for life. He was also ordered to pay £375 in costs and £115 victim surcharge.