Council pledge to rid area of dangerous dogs

DUNGANNON and South Tyrone Borough Council has vowed to rid the area of dangerous dogs.

The claim comes in the wake of last Thursday evening's disturbing undercover investigation into dog fighting by the BBC's Spotlight team.

The programme caused widespread revulsion for its gruesome images unmasking what seems to be a growing popularity in a new type of 'blood sport' and also implicated Tyrone GAA star and Dungannon man Gerard Cavlan in involvement in The Bulldog Sanctuary Kennels - purported to be one of the Province's most notorious canine fighting operations.

It's a claim the 31 year old All Ireland Championship star forward has denied, saying instead he was the victim of a 'set up' by the programme makers who "found it acceptable to resort to deception...merely for the purpose of attempting to obtain unguarded admissions."

Cavlan - who earlier this year pleaded guilty to having an illegal dog unmuzzled in public after a Court case brought by Dungannon Council - faced a hefty fine and five year ban on keeping any terrier type dogs.

But it's thought footage contained in the BBC programme could cause aspects of the case to be revisited by the local authority and Public Prosecution Service, as well as the USPCA.

A PSNI spokesperson said: "Police will be reviewing footage shown and any evidence of illegal activity will be investigated thoroughly."

And a statement issued by Dungannon Council on Monday noted:

"The Council will continue to be proactive in dealing with dangerous dogs in our local community. This commitment is reflected in four recent successful prosecutions and two further cases pending for possession of dangerous dogs. Council is studying a number of issues arising from the recent Spotlight programme with regards to possession of dangerous dogs within the Borough."

Meanwhile Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Lord Maurice Morrow has called on the Public Prosecution Service to call witnesses who gave evidence for Gerard Cavlan to be called back to Court to explain their testimonies

"In the wake of the Spotlight programme which uncovered Cavlan as a boasting dog fight ringleader I would query the so called exeprt witnesses who were prepared to give evidence on his behalf.

"Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council brought a successful prosecution against Cavlan....... He denied the charges right up to the last minute..and his Barrister described Cavlan as an innocent person having to pay the price for doing a favour. That was obviously factually incorrect.

"A number of people were present in Court to explain why he had the dog in the first place...although none were called upon to swear evidence. These people - one alleged to have been the dog's owner from Dublin - should be brought back to Court, along with others who gave references and statements to secure Cavlan's innocence....and their statements thoroughly examined.

"Despite being handed heavy fines and costs Cavlan has not learned his lesson and shows utter contempt for the judicial system. He was banned from keeping any terrier type dog for five years but in the programme admitted having up to fifteen so I would expect further charges for breaching an Order."

The expose is widely thought to spell the end of Cavlan's playing career, with the GAA apparently keen to distance itself from the player and the allegations while he struggles to maintain some personal and professional integrity.

Tyrone County Board Chairman Pat Darcy has refused to comment on whether a lifetime ban will be imposed.