A MAN has been jailed for a ‘portfolio’ of animal cruelty offences against a fox and his own pet dogs.

Dane Crawford was sentenced alongside his girlfriend Shelby Wallis at Preston Crown Court on February 5.

Both co-defendants pleaded guilty to four offences under the Animal Welfare Act at an earlier hearing.

The charges included failing to treat their two lurchers’ injuries, including one badly fractured leg, and for allowing the ears of two of their bullbreeds to be illegally cropped.

It comes after the RSPCA launched an investigation following reports of puppies having their ears cropped, which led to a warrant being executed by police at a property in February 2022. On this occasion, no illegal activity was found.

A further warrant was executed on November 1 2022 after two mobile phones recovered from the first search uncovered images and videos of wildlife being attacked by dogs. This led police to arrest Crawford.

Crawford, aged 30, also admitted to causing unnecessary suffering to a fox after setting dogs on the wild animal inside a garage.

He was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment and ordered to pay £3,500 towards costs. He was also disqualified from keeping all animals for life.

Wallis was handed a three-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work. She was also ordered to pay £2,500 towards costs and was disqualified from keeping animals for 10 years.

Sentencing the couple, of Howgill Avenue in Lancaster, His Honour Judge Medland KC said they had shown ‘cruel and neglectful behaviour’ which caused the animals to suffer ‘to a substantial degree’.

Addressing Crawford in relation to the offences against the fox, Judge Medland KC added: “Your behaviour was criminal and utterly shocking.”

RSPCA Inspector Will Lamping, who led the investigation, said after the sentencing: “This case sends a clear message to those that choose to engage in wildlife prosecution and ear cropping that their cruel activities will not be tolerated.

“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.”