Foxhunter faces cruelty rap

A foxhunter has been accused of leading Scotland’s biggest badger baiting ring after a series of raids.

Stephen Scott, 21, is to be charged with two othermen after police uncovered a makeshift vet’s “surgery” in Hawick – packed with basic tools used to stitch up dogs injured by badgers.

Seventeen dogs seized from three houses in a series of dawn raids by police and cruelty experts needed emergency treatment for missing jaws and ears and gouges to their bodies.

Police also seized mobile phones they suspect were used to film the fights. Scott and his two alleged accomplices – aged 16 and 18 – are set to be arrested and charged within the next week.

A source close to the probe said: “The evidence found on these raids was horrifying. The injuries to the dogs were severe and people will be charged.”

Scott, a forester and fencer, already has a conviction for cruelty to animals. In 2004, he became the first man in Scotland to be convicted under the Protection of Wild Mammals Act after sending terrier dogs down a foxhole.

His lurcher killed a fox after grabbing it by the throat.

Badger baiting is one of the most horrendous illegal animal ‘sports’ in Britain.

Terriers are sent down a badger hole to scare the animals. When the badger tries to escape, it is hit with a spade to make it angry and forced to fight with pitbulls and Staffordshire bull terriers in a makeshift ring.

Participants place bets on how long it will take the badgers to die.

Mike Flynn, head of the SSPCA’s Uniformed Division said: “Badger baiting is incredibly cruel with the animals either being ripped apart by dogs at the sett or taken away to be baited at an organised ‘event’. It is one of the most perverse and premeditated forms of animal cruelty.”

A Lothian and Borders police spokesman said: “This operation was targeted at individuals suspected of badger baiting. This so-called sport is against the law and the injuries dogs receive and the way the badgers are killed is horrific. We have not made any arrests yet but our inquiries are ongoing.”

Jim McGovern, Wildlife Crime Co-ordinator for Lothian and Borders Police, said the latest raids were just the “tip of the iceberg. Every police force in the UK is working with other agencies like the Scottish SPCA in a bid to catch the badger baiters.”

The SSPCA offers a reward of up to £1000 for information about badger baiting which leads to an individual being charged. Call the 24hr phone line on 0870 2404832.

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