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USPCA chief told of death threat

A SENIOR Officer in the Northern Ireland animal charity the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA) has said he is under threat from loyalists who may be connected with organised dog fighting rings.

Stephen Philpott of the USPCA told the Sunday Life newspaper that police informed him last week he was being targeted.

He said that he believes the threat stems from his part in a recent BBC Panorama/Spotlight expose on dog fighting screened last month.

‘This is not the first threat I have received - and it probably won't be the last,’ he told the paper. ‘When the police come to your home, you have to consider your safety.

‘I've no doubt this threat is coming off the back of the Spotlight programme. I would also like to thank the police for bringing this threat to my attention.’

The BBC investigation uncovered a network of criminal gangs who supply illegal pit bull terriers for fighting.

An undercover team found that the dogs, which are banned in the UK under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, are brought into the country listed as ‘crossbreeds’ on their travel documentation.

The dogs are smuggled across Europe for organised fighting and Northern Ireland is one of the main areas for the network to stage dogfights, whilst many pit bulls are bred and trained in Finland before ending up in Northern Ireland, Southern Ireland and parts of the UK mainland.