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suffering Gardaí investigating Tipp dog fighting ring after mauled wild rabbit found in cage

It is suspected the defenceless animal – which had to be put down – was being used as part of a 'blooding' procedure for dogs

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GARDAÍ are investigating an illegal dog hunting and fighting ring in Tipperary following the gruesome discovery of a partially mauled wild rabbit in a cage.

The shocking discovery came after officers conducted a number of searches in south Tipperary as part of an investigation into general criminality in the area.

A total of 10 properties were searched by gardaí investigating thefts of local items ranging from bicycles to chainsaws.

A number of items were seized from the searches, including a small quantity of what is believed to be cocaine.

However, during one of the searches officers were shocked to discover a metal cage located to the rear of a property.

Inside the cage was a wild rabbit which had visible injuries and was clearly suffering.

Gardaí inquired as to what the wild rabbit was doing in the cage and how it came to be so badly injured.

The animal was immediately taken to a local vet for treatment.

However, such was the severe scale of the maul injuries sustained by the rabbit that it had to be put down to end its suffering.

Indications are that the rabbit was injured when it was deliberately mauled by dogs before being thrown into the cage.

Gardaí feared the intention was to use the defenceless animal to be killed by the hunting dogs at a later time.

It is suspected the rabbit was being used as part of a 'blooding' procedure for dogs involved in either illegal hunting or dog fighting. In such circumstances, mauling the rabbit is used to enhance the hunting frenzy of the dogs involved.

Several months ago, a small dog was recovered in the north Cork-south Tipperary area with severe injuries. It is feared these injuries were the result of it being used in 'baiting' during dog fights.

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That led to concerns an illegal dog-hunting and dog-fighting ring may have been operating in the general area.

A wider investigation into the matter has now been launched.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Clonmel gardaí to assist their inquiries. Landowners have been urged to report any unusual activity near properties or local forests at night.

A file will be prepared on the matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

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