A man from Walton who encouraged his dog to kill a caged ferret was handed a suspended sentence Tuesday (May 21).

Joshua Wanless, aged 28, of Pankhurst Road, Walton pleaded guilty to breaching his Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) and causing "unecessary suffering" to both the ferret and dog when he was sentenced at Staines Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

The incident in question happened on January 30 this year at Apple Court Green in Walton.

Officers were called to the address after receiving a report that Mr Wanless had forced a dog into a cage with a ferret in order to kill it.

Surrey police arrived as Mr Wanless drove into an adjacent road, Sunnyside, where they searched his car.

In the boot of the vehicle they found a box with a live ferret inside. They also discovered a cage covered in blood and a dog with blood on its nose.

On the green they also found the ferret that had been killed by the dog minutes beforehand.

Wildlife and Rural Crime Co-ordinator PC Hollie Iribar, who investigated the case alongside PC Josh Parry, described Mr Wanless's crime as "abhorrent":

"This is an abhorrent crime which involved Joshua Wanless antagonising a dog to kill a ferret for no other reason than his own enjoyment.

"He denied the offences at the time and told officers at the scene that the ferret had escaped from its box and been killed by accident, but subsequent investigation of his mobile phone revealed text messages stating his cruel intention beforehand.

PC Iribar added that using dogs to commit vicious crime in this way was linked more broadly to organized crime networks.

"Using dogs to commit crimes in this way is disgusting. We know that crimes such as organised dog fighting are linked to serious criminal networks where it is sadly viewed as a sport.

"Bringing offenders to justice for such barbaric activity is just another way we can disrupt organised criminals from committing other kinds of serious crime," she said.

Surrey Police said that Mr Wanless pleaded guilty at Staines Magistrates Court on May 21, to two breaches of his CBO — for causing alarm or distress to another member of the public and for entering an area he was not allowed in.

Mr Wanless also pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, a ferret, by feeding it to a dog and causing it to die, and causing unnecessary suffering to a dog by encouraging the dog to attack a ferret.

Mr Wanless received a 16 week sentence, suspended for two years, was also ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work in the next 12 months, told to pay a victim surcharge of £115 and costs of £85.

He was also banned from owning or keeping all animals for two years.