Graphic images show a terrier pup seriously injured in an illegal badger-baiting incident after being forced to fight by its owners.
The two-year-old brown Patterdale Terrier suffered several puncture wounds to the right side of its face during a bout in the violent blood sport.
Derbyshire Police branded the act "cruel and barbaric" and said the pup’s owners left the dog behind after fleeing when officers arrived.
Badger-baiting, which was outlawed in the UK in 1835 under the Cruelty to Animals Act, sees a badger drawn out of its sett and threatened, prompting a violent reaction.
The dogs and badgers then fight each other, usually resulting in the death of the badger and serious injury to the dog.
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A spokesman for Derbyshire Police said: “We are investigating a Badger Baiting incident that happened in Chinley, Derbyshire, on the morning of Sunday, September 15.
“Two males were seen to be digging at an active badger sett in an open field. When challenged they made off.
“The two males returned a short time later and were challenged again by the landowner but again made off.
“The males were seen to leave the area in a Silver/Grey large 4×4 Crew cab Type vehicle with a grey rear load bed canopy.
“They left behind a small brown Patterdale terrier type dog with substantial facial injuries which were clearly caused from it being put into the badger sett to fight with the badger as the males dug down to them.
“The dog was taken straight to the vets by police for its horrendous injuries to be looked at.
“This is a cruel and barbaric act by the owners of the dog, both against the dog and the badgers in the name of pleasure.”