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Sunday, 13 July 2014

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Alert over Cumbrian yobs with killer dogs

The RSPCA has warned of unprecedented numbers of cats being deliberately killed by youths with dogs.

Chief Inspector Rob Melloy told the News & Star they were getting reports of at least two cases a week in Workington – the highest level ever seen by the charity.

He spoke out after five teenagers were arrested on suspicion of causing an animal fight following dawn raids, and said the incidents reported to them were probably ‘the tip of the iceberg.’

“It’s despicable,” he said. “Sometimes it’s groups of lads seeing a cat and setting the dog on it, other times they are catching a cat and letting it out in an area where it has no chance of escape.

“What the poor cat must go through before it dies is unthinkable.”

Mr Melloy said there would be more than one group of people involved in the attacks and they were not limited purely to cats.

“It could be rabbits and badgers as well, anything they can get their hands on,” he said.

“It’s purely for their own sadistic pleasure.”

He said the problem had been going on at its current level for months in the town and, on a lower level, growing worse across the UK over the past couple of years.

“It’s never been as bad as this,” he added.

“People are filming it on their mobile phones and talking about it with friends.”

In recent years, there have been reports from other parts of north and west Cumbria of similar crimes.

Mr Melloy said lurcher dogs and greyhounds were most often used and said people should look out for tell-tale scars on dogs’ faces.

He warned the police and animal charity were taking the situation “very seriously” and further raids could take place.

“The incidents we know about are probably the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

“Often, a cat can disappear and the owners don’t know what’s happened to it. Or people come across a dead cat and don’t realise what may have happened.

“The dogs are shredding them. They don’t do anything wrong – they are just acting on instinct. It’s those behind it.”

He said cat owners should not be afraid to let their animals out but warned of doing so if there was a group of people with lurcher dogs nearby.

“The attacks are happening at all times, not just at night,” he added.

Mr Melloy appealed for anyone with information to contact the police on 101 or the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

The five teenagers – aged from 13 to 19 – were arrested after raids in the Far Moss, Clifton and Westfield areas of Workington.

They have been bailed until August pending further inquiries.

Potential crimes against wildlife continue to be a focus for the RSPCA and police.

In Carlisle, a 29-year-old man was cautioned last week for trying to sell a barn owl – a protected species – through a magazine.

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