RSPCA considers appeal over animal fight case ruling

The RSPCA could appeal after its prosecution of six people on animal fighting charges was dismissed.

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) cub, 7 weeks old

Five men and a woman from Devon each faced charges under the Animal Welfare Act at Newton Abbot Magistrates Court.

After legal argument the charges were dismissed by a district judge as not being animal fighting as defined by the act, said the RSPCA.

The charity said it was “considering its position” after the decision on 12 November.

The RSPCA said in a statement that the judge ruled that “‘taking a dog into the countryside seeking another animal to attack and perhaps kill, in that other animal’s own environment and in which that animal is not constrained, artificially or otherwise’ did not constitute animal fighting as defined in the act.

“The Animal Welfare Act has been one of the most successful ever pieces of legislation in protecting animals from harm and the RSPCA furthers its charitable purposes through enforcing the legislation.”

Defence lawyer Simon Rees said on Facebook that the judge was “100% correct in his interpretation of the law”.

He said: “The decision was that section 8 of the Animal Welfare Act was confined to animal fighting proper and was not, as the RSPCA suggested, any fight between say a lurcher and a fox in the context of a hunt.

“The decision upheld the old law under the Protection of Animals Act 1911, which the Animal Welfare Act replaced, to the effect that only captive animals could be the subject of fighting.”

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