Two men, who were yesterday arrested following a series of early morning animal cruelty raids in Colne, have been released pending further enquiries.
The pair, aged 23 and 48, were interviewed by police and the RSPCA after the raids on Hawley Street and Duke Street. They were questioned on suspicion of animal cruelty.
Wednesday’s multi-agency operation highlighted some of the “worst levels” of welfare, police have said.
Operation Gateway, was brought to a head following a 12-month probe into animal cruelty and wildlife crime in the area.
These crimes included badger digging, deer poaching, hare coursing and offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act where police have received information about their pets being targeted by dogs.
A total of six dogs were seized in Colne during the raids. These included three lurchers, two terriers and a cross-breed lurcher/bull terrier. One of the dogs was estimated to be as young as nine-weeks-old. The dogs have now been handed over to the RSPCA for examination by a vet.
Computers, mobile phones, cash and drugs paraphernalia were also seized.
An example of suspected rabbit baiting was also identified at another address in Colne.
Eight addresses in the town were visited by police to warn targets about the action the police and RSPCA are taking in relation to these types of crimes and activity, as well as checking on animal’s conditions and encouraging improvements to welfare.
On two occasions in the last month, Pendle police officers have taken part in a second task, Operation Firecrest, gathering evidence in preparation for this week’s overarching investigation.
Lancashire Police’s Wildlife Crime Officer, Mark Thomas, said: “As with many other wildlife offences, cruelty to animals can be linked to a number of other offences.
“We work closely with the RSPCA to crack down on those who are believed to be involved in organising deliberate expeditions to hunt, take or injure badgers and other wildlife within the Lancashire area.
“I want to reassure members of the public that any reports of animal cruelty and wildlife crime will be looked in to and taken very seriously by both the police and the RSPCA.
“We need continued support from the public and I’d ask anyone who has any information about wildlife crime or animal cruelty to contact us.”
Sgt Kim De Curtis, Neighbourhood Sergeant for Colne and West Craven, added: “We will not tolerate animal cruelty and the deliberate targeting of domestic and wild animals.
“The residents of Colne can be assured that we take these matters seriously and will continue to use all powers available to us to arrest those involved and where necessary seize dogs and vehicles.”