A cruel pet owner who set his dogs on a fox trapped in his garage was caught after sick videos of the attack identified his distinctive trainers.
Dane Crawford, 30, was jailed for 30 months for animal cruelty offences after forcing his pets to attack the wild animal at his home in Howgill Avenue, Lancaster.
But the thug was identified after pictures of him holding the dead animal were linked to sick recordings found on his phone.
He can also be heard encouraging the barbaric onslaught, grunting: ‘Go on dog. Get hold of him.’
In the video, released by the RSPCA, he can be seen lifting the injured fox by its tail to allow the dogs to attack it again.
Five dogs – including three XL Bully-types and two lurchers – were taken from the home and placed in the care of the RSPCA.
Dane Crawford, 30, was jailed for 30 months for animal cruelty offences after forcing his pets to attack the wild animal at his home in Howgill Avenue, Lancaster
The distinctive trainers which allowed investigators to identify Crawford as the man in the horrific videos
Crawford’s XL Bully-type dog named Shakira who had her ears illegally cropped
Another one of the couple’s XL Bully-type dogs. This one is named Drey
Videos of the fox’s slow death are unbearably upsetting and have been released by the RSPCA to show Crawford’s horrifying inhumanity.
The brute was also jailed for having two of his pet dogs’ ears cropped and failing to get veterinary treatment for the two lurchers’ injuries following the fight.
On Monday last week, Crawford was jailed for 30 months for a portfolio of animal cruelty offences as well as being banned from keeping animals for life.
He appeared at Preston Crown Court for sentencing alongside his girlfriend, Shelby Wallis, 23, of the same address.
Crawford and Wallis had both previously pleaded guilty to four offences under the Animal Welfare Act, including failing to treat their two lurchers’ injuries, including one badly fractured leg, and for allowing the ears of two of their bullbreeds – Drey and Shakira – to be illegally cropped.
Crawford also admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a fox after setting dogs on the wild animal inside a garage.
The RSPCA launched an investigation following reports of puppies having their ears cropped, leading to a warrant, led by Lancaster Council, being executed by police at a property in Lancaster in February 2022.
A number of dogs were present but there was no evidence of any crimes having been committed.
However, during the property search two mobile phones were recovered and given to the charity’s Special Operations Unit for analysis, uncovering disgusting images and videos of wildlife being attacked by dogs.
A grab from one of the horrific fox attack videos which features Crawford’s distinctive trainers
The lurcher called Major was found to have wounds on their face from being forced to kill the fox
The three XL Bully-type dogs that were found at Crawford’s and Wallis’ property in Lancaster
This prompted a further warrant in November 2022 with Crawford arrested.
A number of dogs were found at the property, including two lurchers – called Major and Lassie – with untreated injuries, and bullbreeds with cropped ears.
Five dogs were removed and placed into RSPCA care.
Investigators also looked into the images and videos from the phones.
Two highly upsetting videos showed foxes being set loose in confined spaces with dogs encouraged to attack them.
A vet assessed the lurchers and bullbreeds.
She described Major’s facial injuries as ‘unusual’ and ‘traumatic’ and suspected they’d been caused by another animal at least 72 hours before.
She said in her witness statement that the owner should have immediately sought veterinary advice.
She described Lassie’s fractured leg as ‘a traumatic wound’, adding: ‘I am not sure how it happened but the dog has been left with a very painful leg and the owner had not sought timely veterinary advice.
‘As such there was development of swelling and more pain and infection.’
Lassie and Major were signed over into the RSPCA’s care a few days after they were removed and were both rehomed.
The bullbreeds were signed over at a later date.
RSPCA Inspector Will Lamping, who led the investigation, said after the case: ‘An image was recovered showing Crawford in very distinctive trainers with one of his dogs, holding a dead fox.
‘We could identify him within the video of the fox being attacked because of these trainers.’
He added: ‘In interview, Crawford told me he got the two lurchers six weeks before from Appleby. Wallis told me that the three bullbreed dogs were hers and that they’d been imported.’
One of the lurchers, who is called Lassie, which was taken into the care of the RSPCA
A close up XL Bully-type dog Shakira’s ear which has been cropped
Following the sentencing, Inspector Lamping added: ‘This case sends a clear message to those that choose to engage in wildlife persecution and ear cropping that their cruel activities will not be tolerated.
‘It took many hours to comb through the videos and pictures on the phones recovered; but 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.
‘The defendants’ own dogs were used in these attacks and were left without vet treatment for serious injuries – including a fractured leg.
‘Both have been handed lengthy bans on keeping animals, and handed prison or suspended prison sentences, for their treatment of animals.’
Crawford was sentenced to a total of 30 months in prison and ordered to pay £3,500 in costs.
Wallis was handed a three-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
She must also pay £2,500 towards costs and was disqualified from keeping animals for 10 years.
Sentencing the couple, Judge Medlund 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, he said: ‘Your behaviour was criminal and utterly shocking.’