A Tonypandy man has been handed a suspended jail sentence and banned from keeping animals after admitting interference with a badger sett.
Matthew Howell Jones, 38, of Jones Street, also admitted failing to get urgent veterinary treatment for his dog, with the black terrier struggling with “very worrying” injuries that vets say are consistent with an encounter with a badger, or other wild animal.
His dog had alopecia and skin lesions, caused by sarcoptic mange – with a wound to the eye consistent with a tear injury to the lower lid. Despite these problems, Jones did not ensure appropriate veterinary care for the dog.
A veterinary professional said such injuries are “commonly seen following fighting” and would be “consistent with a face-to-face encounter with another dog or a fox or a badger”.
Fortunately, the dog was signed into the RSPCA’s care and ultimately went up for rehoming. He was one of four dogs initially seized as part of the investigation.
RSPCA Cymru was contacted by Police to assist with their enquiries after fears the man had used dogs to interfere with a badger sett on 20 January 2019, at a site near the Pembrokeshire / Carmarthenshire border.
Police found blood-stained overalls in Jones’ van, though he denied ownership of the clothing. Testing of the blood confirmed it had come from a badger. RSPCA officers later found evidence of one large, freshly dug and back-filled hole at an active badger sett.
Jones was sentenced at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court on Thursday (9 January), after pleaded guilty to one Protection of Badgers Act 1992 offence and one Animal Welfare Act offence.
He was given a five-month prison sentence, suspended for 24 months, and disqualified from keeping all animals for four years.
In addition, he has been told to pay £1,000 in costs, a £405 fine and a £115 victim surcharge. Jones was also deprived by the court of all possessions related to the interference with a badger sett – including locating devices, netting and a quad bike.
Chief inspector of the RSPCA’s special operations unit Ian Briggs said: “Interfering with a badger sett in this way is a very serious wildlife crime, and clearly had serious possible impacts both for the dogs involved and wildlife.
“One poor dog in this case was struggling with injuries that clearly needed urgent veterinary care.
“It’s very worrying that the injuries sustained by the dog are – according to veterinary opinion – consistent with fighting, and a face-to-face encounter with wildlife, such as a fox or a badger.
“This case is yet another example of the RSPCA’s efforts to tackle crimes against Wales’ wildlife.”