A HARD-HITTING campaign has been launched this week in response to the growing problem of deliberate animal cruelty.
Operation Partnership says that there is evidence that sadists are using specially-bred dogs to hunt down and kill animals in the area for pleasure.
As well as badgers, deer, hares and foxes, the dogs - running dogs cross-bred with fighting dogs - may be set on farm animals and domestic pets.
According to the group, cats are being taken and savaged to death for enjoyment - and to increase the dogs’ ferocity.Ground-nesting birds such as partridge, lapwing and curlew are also disturbed by the activity.
The partnership - which involves the police, South Yorkshire Badger Group, the RSPCA and Farm Watch - say that the fighting dogs are often seriously injured in encounters with ferocious badgers whose owners do not take them to a vet for fear of being exposed.
Scars are referred to as medals and are a source of pride among the dog owners, according to the partnership.
The partnership is now appealing for public help saying: “The Doncaster area is slipping back ito the middle ages with a shameful increase in animal cruelty. This is not about neglect or mis-management of animals; it is about deliberate cruelty and violent death for sadistic pleasure.”
They reckon that criminals are becoming more confident because their behaviour is usually going unreported, so the public is being asked to report any suspicions or information.
Things to look out for include 4x4 vehicles on farmland at night, men with running dogs or fighting dogs or terriers on land without permission, powerful lamps and torches used in fields at night or men trespassing with dogs and spades.
According to the partnership, any of these could indicate criminal activity and should be reported immediately to the police by dialling 999, saying that a crime is in progress and asking for an incident number.
You should make a note of the description of the men and dogs and take down vehicle numbers if possible. You should be able to give the location as accurately as possible. If the police aren’t able to attend, the advice is to cotnact the RSPCA on 0300 123 4999 or the Badger 24 Hour Helpline on 0772 259 0184.
If no obvious crime has been committed, for example if people have seen dogs with injuries, people taking fighting dogs out at night, or fighting dogs being kept in sheds for a long time, contact the helpline or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.