Five men arrested on suspicion of killing cats and wildlife with hunting dogs
Five men were arrested on suspicion of killing wildlife and cats with hunting dogs in a major operation between the police and RSPCA today.
50 police and 19 RSPCA officers took part in the raids in Firthmoor, Darlington, which saw four 18-year-olds and a man aged 19 being held on suspicion of animal cruelty.
The operation followed reports from the public that dogs were being used to hunt cats and wildlife in the Darlington area.
Six lurchers and two labradors were seized, along with mobile phones, computers and hunting paraphernalia.
Durham Police deputy chief constable Michael Banks said: "The force is committed to protecting its rural communities and tackling rural crime.
"Animal welfare is an issue at the heart of those communities and we hope that this morning's raids reassure people that activities involving animal cruelty will not be tolerated."
RSPCA chief inspector Mark Gent said: "Where we have evidence that offences have taken place, we will take action to bring the individuals involved before a court.
"I hope this sends a message to anyone involved in this kind of deliberate, abhorrent cruelty - we are actively seeking you and the next knock on the door could be us."
The men were being questioned at Darlington police station.
One of the 18-year-olds was also arrested on suspicion of cultivating cannabis and plants were seized from his home.
Anonymity order lifted for brutal child killer David McGreavy jailed in 1973
World news in pictures
Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
Plenty of Fish dating site founder pulls 'Intimate Encounters' option to ward off sleazy men
Video emerges of Pope Francis reportedly performing an exorcism in St Peter’s Square
- 1 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 2 After woman sells virginity for $780,000, here are the results of our prostitution survey
- 3 Exclusive: Championship clubs set to push for safe-standing trials
- 4 China agrees to impose carbon targets by 2016
- 5 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.