Three given suspended jail sentences after admitting training dogs for fights

Three men from Lancashire who admitted training dogs for organised fights have been given suspended jail sentences and banned from keeping dogs for life.

Darren Wheatcroft, his son Callan Wheatcroft and Simon Whitworth used treadmills and their own home medication kits to prepare the animals for bouts.

Darren Wheatcroft (16.1.67), of Haywood Road, Accrington, admitted arranging a dog fight to take place after he claims to have met another British dog-fighter during a visit to the Netherlands. He appeared along with his fellow defendants at Burnley Magistrates’ Court today (20.4.15) where he was given a 20 week custodial sentence, which was suspended for 18 months.

Callan Wheatcroft (7.2.93), also of Haywood Road, Accrington and Whitworth (7.3.71), of Haslingden Old Road, Oswaldtwistle, received 16 week jail sentences, which were also suspended for 18 months.

All three men admitted keeping or training dogs for use in an animal fight, in breach of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and possession of pit bull terrier type dogs, in breach of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

Chief inspector Ian Briggs, from the RSPCA’s special operations unit, said: “Evidence heard in court today showed these men were involved in the despicable world of organised dog fighting, where animals are trained for the sole purpose of inflicting injuries upon each other.

“Dog fighting is an extreme form of premeditated animal cruelty and cases like this are amongst some of the most serious offences we investigate.

“These three men were clearly highly organised and the district judge himself remarked that they were involved in dog fighting for their own entertainment and financial gain.”

Darren Wheatcroft and Whitworth were both ordered to pay £15,000 costs, while Callan Wheatcroft must pay £10,000. They must all also carry out 150 hours unpaid work.

Lancashire Police carried out warrants in May last year at two residential addresses and one farm connected to the three men as part of the investigation into organised dog fighting in the Lancashire area, which was known as Operation Cask.

As well as the treadmill and veterinary kits, police officers also seized an extensive library of dog fighting literature, including training schedules and diaries, which are known as ‘keeps’.

Footage from the warrants is available to download at