TWO men have denied badger baiting after a terrier suffered severe facial injuries.
The dog suffered tearing to its jaw and damage to an eye in the alleged incident in Christie Woods, on Colburn Estate, near Catterick, North Yorkshire.
The injuries caused the dog to need two bouts of surgery following the incident on September 20 last year.
The RSPCA is prosecuting Mark Howells, 28, of Taransay Walk, Darlington, and Donald Blair, 30, of Walnut Avenue, Colburn.
At Northallerton Magistrates’ Court yesterday, they both pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty, interfering with a badger sett and putting a dog and a ferret down a badger sett.
The court heard that the pair were spotted in the woods by gamekeeper Neil Clark at noon.
They were standing near a badger sett and had spades on the ground and a third man was standing nearby with a ferret in a box, it was alleged.
The court heard that Mr Clark heard one of the men say: “I think it’s about here.”
Mr Clark told the court he asked if there was a dog down the hole and was told there was a ferret.
He told the men it was a private estate and asked them to leave.
Mr Clark added: “About 4pm one of them came back and asked to look for his dog.
“Later, I went to where he’d gone and found an area three foot square dug up and put back.”
The third man spotted by Mr Clark has never been traced.
The terrier, called Blackie, was brought to a vets’ surgery and staff became suspicious of his injuries and alerted the RSPCA.
Vet Matthew Brash told the court: “The dog’s injuries were quite extensive.
“They were absolutely classic injuries for a dog underground facing a badger.
“Saying that, I can’t be certain that the injuries were not caused by a dog or a fox.”
Defence expert witness Steve Lomax said: “Injuries like these could have been caused by a badger but I have seen injuries like these caused by a dog and a fox.
“In my mind too, if they were going to badger bait, they would have had a pick axe or an iron bar and not just two spades.”
The case continues today.