Borders women are among the main targets of the Scottish SPCA’s latest appeal to help it tackle one of the most horrific of all wildlife crimes.
Badger baiting, like most forms of animal fighting, is predominantly an activity conducted by men and Scotland’s animal welfare charity wants to encourage wives, girlfriends and family members to speak out against this barbaric crime.
The Scottish SPCA has received intelligence relating to badger baiting activities happening across the country with the Borders one area where investigators know it is definitely taking place.
Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: “The general public is widely unaware that badger baiting still goes on today because the people involved in it manage to conceal their activities very well.
“That’s why we want to speak to the people who are close to the perpetrators because they are often the only ones who will ever be exposed to this dreadful crime.
“Some of the information we receive about animal fighting comes from female partners, friends and family members who are quite rightly disgusted to discover that their husband, boyfriend, brother or son is involved in such an extremely cruel activity.
“Many are distraught when a partner returns home with their dog suffering from terrible injuries. The baiters will regularly self-treat the dogs rather than take them to a vet and be exposed. This can result in a dog’s suffering being prolonged and in some cases the animals simply die from their injuries and infection or indeed are killed by their owner.
“It’s very unlikely members of the public will ever see a baiter walking their dog publicly, because anyone who saw one of these dogs would be very alarmed and hopefully they’d call us straight away.
“The dogs we recover from our searches tend to be severely scarred around the muzzle and face, many have damage to their eyes and broken teeth and in some cases have injuries relating to what is called ‘de-gloving’ of the skin from the face. Some also have leg and shoulder injuries. Badgers are exceptionally strong creatures and can inflict serious and often fatal injuries on a dog.
“Badger baiting is abhorrent and has no place in modern society. Both the dogs and the badgers will fight until they are horrifically injured or dead. How anyone can derive pleasure from such an activity is beyond belief, but it is happening here in Scotland.
“We are urging anyone who has information relating to this crime to search their conscience and contact our animal helpline on 03000 999 999. All information is treated in the strictest confidence and can be left anonymously.”
Animal fighting is a criminal offence and anyone found guilty of organising or being involved in an animal fight can expect to be banned from keeping animals for a fixed period or life. Maximum sentences include up to 12 months in prison, a £20,000 fine or both.