SIX members of the same family appeared in court on Thursday as part of a police investigation into suspected animal cruelty and illegal dog fighting.
Jerimiah Samuel and Cathy Kirkwood, both aged 41 and from Parkgate Crescent, Belfast, face a series of charges following raids on properties in the city.
Their sons Gary Kirkwood, 18, Ryan Kirkwood, 20, Chris Kirkwood, 21, and Wayne Kirkwood, 19, all of Island Street, Belfast, are also accused of involvement in the alleged racket.
Alongside them in the dock at the city’s magistrates court were 18-year-old Jamie Morrow, of McAllister Court, and Daniel Scott, 32, of Tower Court, both in Belfast.
They were arrested in an operation carried out with officers from the USPCA last November.
Several dogs and equipment were taken away from houses in the city.
A range of charges brought against some of the accused include causing unnecessary suffering to animals, keeping or training an animal used in connection with animal fighting, having items used for fights, and photographing and publishing images of an animal fight.
Pitbull and lurcher-type dogs, puppies and badgers were all referred to during the hearing.
A detective constable revealed in court that three of dogs seized have since been destroyed because they were self-harming.
The officer, who said she could connect all of the accused to the charges, said a veterinary expert has been able to identify these animals from video footage of the alleged fights.
During questioning by a defence solicitor, she claimed injuries to the dogs were “consistent with this type of activity”.
All eight accused were released on continuing bail, with conditions imposed to allow police to carry out checks on any other animals being kept.