Surviving the Baiters

It’s not every day we get to hear some really good news with relation to badger persecution, but here is such a great story, we had to share! In her owner’s words, here’s Ruby’s story…

This is the story of our beautiful Patterdale /Fell terrier, Ruby – who survived against the odds when she had the misfortune to fall into the hands of barbaric badger baiters.

Five years ago we, as a family, were in the fortunate position to be able to offer a home to a rescue dog as a companion to our then only dog, a Patterdale terrier named Tiger who we had re-homed from the RSPCA.  We searched the websites of various different rescues between Manchester and Leeds on a daily basis and even had meets with a couple of dogs that we hoped would be the one for us.  Sadly, none of these meets worked out so it was back to trawling the rescue websites in the hope of finding a dog that would settle happily into our household.

I will never forget the first time I saw a photograph of a small terrier on one of the rescue sites.  She looked so sad, with no fur on her face, blind in one eye and with obvious scarring to her head. This little dog was in our local pound and won my heart at first glance.  We immediately made arrangements to go and visit her and what I saw broke my heart.

Ruby (web image)

Ruby at the pound

We were taken to her kennel and saw a shivering, frightened little dog, curled up in a ball and totally shut down to the world with horrific scars to her back legs, head and the rest of her body.  Her coat was filthy and stank of her own urine but I just saw a beautiful little scrap of a dog that needed some love and TLC.  She had totally lost trust in the human race and it took a lot of time and patience to coax her to the front of the kennel.  She tentatively sniffed my hand.  Then she licked it.  That was the start of her new life as Ruby – named after my favourite precious gem.  She came to live with us and slowly her story began to unfold.

The staff at the pound asked us to inform our local Dog Warden that we had given the newly-named Ruby a home.  This was the warden who had brought our little dog to the pound and who desperately wanted her to go to a good home before the seven days were up, when she was due to be put to sleep.

This wasn’t the Dog Warden’s first contact with Ruby; she had first seen her in the hands of some well know local hunters/poachers.  She had seen them laughing, and taking photographs of her with what she described as “horrific” injuries, but unfortunately they disappeared before she could intervene.  It was almost three weeks later that she got a call from the local vet, asking if she could pick up a stray dog that had been “dumped” at the reception desk.

On arrival at the vets, she had severely infected and septic wounds that had been left untreated for a prolonged period of time, was blind in one eye due to an untreated glaucoma and had nobody to pay for any treatment.   Fortunately, one of the vets took pity on the dog and rather than put her to sleep, patched her up, treated her wounds and arranged for her to be taken to the local council pound.  The dog warden immediately recognised her as the dog she had seen three weeks previously and the pieces of the jigsaw started to fit together.

The vet knew from the marks on the dog’s back legs, which had been ripped open right through to the muscle – and by the nature of the other injuries – that she had been used to bait a badger.  This tied in with the people that the dog warden had seen her with.


When we took Ruby home she was a mess, both physically and mentally.  She was still on medication and the amount of puncture wounds all over her little body was shocking.  We had to take things very slowly as she was frightened of every move we made.  If we crossed or uncrossed our legs she ran and hid for fear of being kicked; even reaching for a pen or cup of tea made her flinch and run away.  But over a period of time we began to gain her trust.  We spoke very gently to her and with a constant supply of love, kind words and lots of treats we won her round.

Just over two months later we noticed Ruby walking in a strange fashion.  We knew something was very wrong so we took her to the vet who diagnosed a detached retina in her one working eye.  We were advised to take her to see an eye specialist in Penrith, Cumbria who confirmed the diagnosis, which he said had been caused by a trauma to the head – either from the badger baiting incident, or by being struck with a blunt object causing the eye to ‘pop’ and the retina to become detached.  The eye had to be removed and Ruby was now totally blind.

We did a lot of research into how best we could help Ruby adapt to her lack of sight. We found that clapping hands, so she could hear where we were; speaking her name before stroking her or picking her up; and putting different textures of mats on the floor, inside and outside doors, all helped her to find her way around her now dark world.  Two years later, Ruby needed to have the remaining eye removed; the one blinded by glaucoma, due to non-treatment of her condition.  She now had no eyes at all.

Both operations required a lot of nursing but the nights spent holding her in my arms as she whimpered and cried, soothing her and rocking her, were worth it in the end.  The pain was gone and she now lives a happy life and will never know fear and pain again.

ruby conservatory

Ruby has been a member of our family now for five years and every morning she wakes up with a wagging tail and lots of excited barking, as she knows that life is good and every day brings nice things!  She is one of the most gentle, good natured dogs we have ever had the pleasure of knowing; her harsh, cruel past has not made her vicious, nasty or unpredictable.  The feel of a loving hand and a patient, understanding home brought out her true nature.  She is fun loving, happy and just loves life.

We recently had the good fortune to see a person, who we believe was her previous owner, sent to prison for the barbaric act of badger baiting with dogs and this person was also banned from owning any animal for ten years.  It is little comfort to the animals that have suffered at the hands of this cruel excuse for a human being, and I often wonder what became of the poor, innocent badger that was involved in the incident with Ruby.

To sum up Ruby, affectionately known as “The Bear”, I say she has the courage of a lion, the face of a teddy bear and a heart of pure gold. We quite simply adore her and we are very proud of how brave she has been and continues to be.  She is a survivor and living proof that these dogs, given the chance, can go on to make the most wonderful family pets and see a side of life they have never experienced before.


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