Yesterday a terrier man and a gamekeeper (the difference is really just semantics) were both sentenced for extreme animal cruelty.
Paul O’Shea, a terrier man with the East Essex Hunt, was handed an 18 week prison sentence suspended for a year and banned from keeping dogs for 5 years. His crime was to capture and stab a fox with a pitchfork, finally killing it. He was captured by a hidden camera planted by North London Hunt Saboteurs.
Rhys Davies, a gamekeeper for the Millden estate which hosts grouse shoots, kept numerous trophy photos of dogs he used to fight and bait wild animals. Davies has been jailed for eight months, and banned for keeping dogs for 15 years. He was found out after a staff member flagged the images to the Scottish SPCA who launched an investigation.
Both sentences are too short for such examples of animal cruelty, which are unfortunately very common in the hunting and shooting community, and were only brought to light by the hard work of animal advocates organisations.
It is time the courts caught the mood of the country and handed out the serious sentences it can when these crimes come to conviction, not hand down sentences which are a slap on the wrist to such offenders, who will quickly return to their old positions and, no doubt, repeat their crimes to the detriment of wildlife.
A Hunt Saboteurs Association spokesperson commented:
‘The Countryside Alliance has a lot to answer for with its promotion of gamekeepers and terrier men as custodians of the countryside. In truth they are wildlife’s worst enemies and whenever the police come across such job titles they should look very hard at those individuals activities. The court should reward such abuse with the maximum sentences and ban them from owning animals for life. Nothing less is acceptable.’