A man has been jailed after admitting a string of offences following an RSPCA investigation into dog fighting after a training yard was discovered in a sleepy, country village.
Neil Forrest of Meadow View, Aspenden, in Hertfordshire, appeared at Stevenage Magistrates' Court on 15 February for the start of a two-day trial, but entered guilty pleas to three of four offences, including causing unnecessary suffering to a dog and keeping or training a dog for use in connection with an animal fight.
He was sentenced to a total of 24 weeks in prison and was disqualified from keeping all animals for life. He was also ordered to pay £750 in costs.
RSPCA inspector Cliff Harrison, who led the investigation, said: "Forrest was involved in the barbaric and brutal dog fighting underworld - a secret he kept well hidden until one of his dogs went missing one day."
On 5 March 2017, a black and white Staffordshire bull terrier bitch was found covered in wounds and scars. She was collected by a local charity and taken to a vet who alerted the RSPCA.
"This poor dog was absolutely covered in wounds - both fresh and historic - with bite marks, scratches and puncture wounds predominantly around her muzzle, ears and legs, inspector Harrison added. "These sorts of injuries are exactly the sort of thing we we see when dogs are forced to fight another dog and the vet agreed that the injuries were consistent with dog fighting."
While Kali was being treated a number of calls were made to local vets and dog wardens reporting a missing black Staffie. Three different numbers were noted down, one of which was traced back to Forrest and two others, believed to be his friends', which were later found on his mobile phone.
On 19 May, RSPCA joined Hertfordshire Constabulary to execute a warrant at Forrest's home where three further bull breed type dogs were found at the premises along with a spaniel. A third bull breed was found in a crate in the garage and a fourth dog - a spaniel - was also found although there were no concerns for this dog.
They also found books and articles on pit bulls and dog fighting.
The court also ordered for Forrest to be deprived of ownership of Kali who RSPCA staff will now seek to rehome.