Gaelic Football Player Gerard Cavlan Caught on Film Involved with Dogfighting

A thug is a thug no matter his nationality or race. Thanks to the TimesOnline for this article. Undercover film links Gaelic football star to...



A thug is a thug no matter his nationality or race.

Thanks to the TimesOnline for this article.

Undercover film links Gaelic football star to dog-fighting
David Sharrock, Ireland Correspondent

A Gaelic football star is a leading player in the illegal and savage world of dog-fighting, it was claimed last night.

Gerard Cavlan, an All-Ireland medal winner with Tyrone, is a senior figure in a dog-fighting operation known as The Bulldog Sanctuary Kennels, a television documentary on BBC Northern Ireland alleged.

The claim comes in the same week that Michael Vick, a star with the Atlanta Falcons American football team, was suspended indefinitely by the National Football League after pleading guilty to taking part in a dog-fighting ring. He is expected to receive a 12 to 18-month prison sentence.

The 17-month investigation by the BBC, which uncovered 15 illegal dog-fighting gangs in Northern Ireland, has cast doubt over the sporting future of Cavlan, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, who was fined 650 this year for possessing a dangerous dog.

In April, Dungannon Magistrates Court was told that Cavlan, 30, had merely collected the dog from kennels for a Dublin man, and was not involved in any other illegal activities.

However, during covert recording by the BBC, and after being raided by the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Cavlan admitted that he still had a dozen or 15 dogs.”

He also talked about the strength and skill of a pitbull terrier in a fight. Sure, he had him in the chest, and he shook him and he shook him for 25 minutes. A real hard-mouthed dog,” he said. It does not appear that the BBC filmed Cavlans dogs fighting.

Five of the 15 other gangs found by the documentary team to be operating in Northern Ireland are based in Belfast, and some have links to international dog-fighting organisations.

One of the gangs, the Farmers Boys, based in Tandragee, Co Armagh, was infiltrated by the BBC. After being taken into the inner circle of the gang, its undercover reporter was permitted access to a dog-fight.

He said that what he witnessed was horrific. The most shocking thing wasseeing the dogs being ripped apart and being covered in puncture wounds, with gristle coming out and bites down to the bone where you could see the white of the bone underneath,” he said.

You could hear the skin and flesh tearing as every wound was inflicted.”

The investigation extended to Finland, where it was revealed how illegal pitbull terriers are transported from Europe into Northern Ireland.

It also learnt how the dogs were trained and forced into practice fights or rolls” from as young as 10 months.

In Finland, the documentary team won the trust of Robert Gonzales, a pitbull breeder, who explained how easy it was to export the banned dogs. When asked if he had registered a dog being exported as a pitbull on its animal passport, Gonzales explained that he tricked customs officials by marking it as a mixed breed.

Ive imported a lot of dogs so I know how to fool the customs . . . all you need is a computer and a printer,” he said.

Cavlan, who was a member of Tyrones 2003 All-Ireland Championship-winning side, made no comment yesterday, but the Belfast daily The Irish News quoted him as saying: I felt victimised by the BBC and this has been a witch-hunt from day one.” The matters in the documentary were unconnected to him, he added.

I have pleaded guilty and accepted my conviction and paid my fine. I want this matter to come to an end so I can put it behind me and deal with the rest of my life.”

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