Man jailed after setting dogs on fox in garage
Vdeo footage found on mobile phones seized by police
30-year-old Dane Crawford has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for animal cruelty. He trapped a fox in his garage and set his pet dogs on the poor animal. His girlfriend, 23-year-old Shelby Wallis, was also sentenced under the Animal Welfare Act.
The pair, who live together in Lancaster, previously pleaded guilty to four offences at Preston Crown Court, and were sentenced on 5 February. Their property was searched by police in February 2022 after the RSPCA launched an investigation into them. During the search, police seized two mobile phones which contained images and video footage of their dogs attacking foxes in confined spaces. Another warrant was then issued on 1 November 2022, when Crawford was arrested.
The RSPCA's Will Lamping stated:
“An image was recovered showing Crawford in very distinctive trainers with one of his dogs, holding a dead fox. We could identify him within the video of the fox being attacked because of these trainers.”
The couple were punished for failing to treat the injuries of Major (pictured above) and Lassie - two of their Lurcher dogs. Lassie had suffered from a badly fractured leg. They were also sentenced for getting the ears of two of their bull breed dogs - Shakira and Drey - illegally cropped. On top of this, Crawford was sentenced for causing unnecessary suffering to the fox.
Major's facial injuries were described as "traumatic" by a vet, who examined the dogs after they were removed from the couple's home. The vet thought the injuries had been caused by another animal at least 72 hours prior to the examination. Crawford and Wallis failed to get veterinary help for Major. The vet also said of Lassie's fractured leg:
“I am not sure how it happened but the dog has been left with a very painful leg and the owner had not sought timely veterinary advice. As such there was development of swelling and more pain, and infection.”
Their five dogs were placed into the RSPCA's care. As well as being imprisoned, Crawford was banned from keeping animals for life. He was also ordered to pay £3,500 in costs. Wallis was given a suspended sentence of three months, meaning that she escapes prison unless she offends in the next 18 months. She was ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work. She has also been banned from keeping animals for the next ten years, and must pay £2,500 in costs.
Crawford poses with a dead fox. Photo via RSPCA
'Serious level of cruelty'
The RSPCA's Lamping said:
"It took many hours to comb through the videos and pictures on the phones recovered; but this work uncovered the serious level of cruelty shown to both the wild animals literally being thrown to the dogs - and to the puppies whose ears were being mutilated. The defendants' own dogs were used in these attacks and were left without vet treatment for serious injuries - including a fractured leg. Both have been handed lengthy bans on keeping animals, and handed prison or suspended prison sentences, for their treatment of animals."
Sadly, the cruelty inflicted on animals by Crawford and Wallis is more common in the UK than you might think. Protect the Wild regularly reports on similar acts. In the past two months, we have reported on the Scottish gamekeeper who posted videos to both TikTok and Snapchat, showing his dogs fighting both badgers and foxes, who had no chance of surviving the attacks. We have also written about the Dorset men who were jailed for mutilating wild animals. Police seized one of the men's phones, and found incriminating videos of torturing animals, mainly at night. On top of this, we regularly cover stories of men badger baiting and hare coursing - two blood sports that are all too common in this country.
If there is any silver lining to this horrendous story it is that dimwitted criminals like Crawford seem unable to resist keeping a ‘video trophy’ of the abuse they inflict on animals. Almost inevitably it is the evidence they create and store themselves that helps to convict them.
We have previously reported on how the UK likes to pride itself as a nation of animal lovers, when in reality it is a country with a disturbingly high number of wildlife killers. Cruelty is either baked into their jobs or is the fundamental attraction of a sick hobby. Whether people are hunting wild mammals on horses in the name of 'tradition' or forcing their dogs to fight badgers, our treatment of animals is a stark insight into the true values of far too many of our ‘fellow citizens’.
Help us protect foxes!
By adopting a fox with Protect the Wild you will help us put ‘eyes in the field’ to tackle illegal hunting, our campaign efforts to ensure a proper ban on hunting and greater protection for wild foxes, and efforts to help rehabilitate sick and injured foxes.
As an adopter, not only will you be helping fund vital work, but you will also receive an exclusive Protect the Wild adoption pack including cuddly toy, glossy photo, and an information fact sheet. As an adopter we will keep you up to date by email on our latest campaigns and the important impact we’re having to safeguard wild foxes.