#TheList Daniel Churchill, born c. 1994, of Riversdale Terrace, Sunderland SR2 – forced his lurcher, Drift, to attack wild animals and then failed to treat the dog’s painful injuries.
Gypsy traveller Churchill was facing a potential jail sentence for causing unnecessary suffering to a lurcher known as Drift after failing to treat injuries the dog sustained in forced fights with wild animals.
The offences came to light after Drift was found wandering the streets in November 2018 and was taken to a vet.
He had cuts on his face, neck, legs and body, and his injuries were consistent with a fight with another animal, such as a fox.
Churchill pleaded guilty to two offences at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
RSPCA prosecutor Stewart Haywood said Churchill rang the vet to claim ownership of the dog but was told Drift had been seized by police and an investigation had been launched.
He claimed Drift had escaped from his kennel the night before he was found in the streets.
Mr Haywood said a vet examined the pet and found scratch wounds to the shoulder, legs and face. Some scratches were three to four days old, while other injuries were up to 48 hours old.
He added: “Some were consistent with injuries you would expect to see on animals that had a fight with another animal, such as a fox.”
During the investigation, it was found the defendant’s Facebook account had references and pictures glorifying the hunting of animals with dogs. One photo was of a dog chasing a fox, another of a dog with a fox biting it and one image showed a dead fox.
My Haywood said: “The defendant was clearly glorifying the hunting of animals with dogs on there.
“This is a case where there’s clearly high culpability. The defendant is clearly deliberately causing suffering to his dog by using him in the hunting of animals.
“The injuries were consistent with it being attacked by another animal.”
The court was told that Drift had now been rehomed.
Tom Morgan, defending Churchill, said: “The pictures from the Facebook account – the defendant says they were in fact from a disused Facebook account.
“He did not and does not accept that those pictures depict the animal in this case.
“The defendant’s only concern throughout these proceedings, whether you can believe this or not, has been the animal.
“He has made efforts to try and retrieve the dog. He accepts by way of guilty plea that he has not been caring for the animal as he should be. He has to accept he will not get that animal back.”
Mr Morgan further said his client was “capable of being rehabilitated”.
“I do believe that he has learnt his lesson”, he added.
Sentencing: 18-week prison sentence, suspended for two years; completion of a rehabilitation programme. Costs of £500. Banned from keeping animals for 10 years.