A MAN suspected of killing up to 10,000 greyhounds at his North-East home for £10-a-time has installed extra security after his family received sinister phone calls.
Closed-circuit television cameras, floodlights and other security measures were fitted yesterday at the secluded home, in Seaham, east Durham, of builder's merchant David Smith. Mr Smith is accused of slaughtering thousands of retired racing dogs and burying them on land behind his house.
Since the allegations were made, it is understood a number of malicious calls have been made to Mr Smith's business and home, some of which were answered by his wife and daughter.
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Last night, the father-of-three said the allegations had caused him massive distress, but added: "I have been told not to say anything about it and everything is with the RSPCA and the police. I am devastated by all of this."
However, as workmen installed extra security, a spokesman for Durham Constabulary confirmed that several incidents had been reported to police.
He said: "We are not aware that he has received any direct threats, but there have been a number of malicious calls received at the house."
The case is being investigated by a number of public agencies to determine whether any law has been broken by Mr Smith, who is alleged to have used a bolt gun to put down thousands of healthy dogs over a number of years - charging greyhound dealers £10 a time.
Police visited Mr Smith for a second time yesterday. A spokesman said: "Following the publication of a story in a Sunday newspaper, we have been in contact, both yesterday and again today, with Mr Smith to discuss issues raised in the article.
"We have received no specific complaints about Mr Smith's activities and we have no concerns about the bolt gun described in the article, which we have now established is quite legitimately held.
"However, any questions on public health issues in relation to the burial of dogs is not one for the police and should be directed to the local authorities."
The RSPCA said it was looking into the case, but did not believe animal cruelty laws had been broken.
A spokeswoman for the organisation said: "We need to look at that closely, but the indications are that there has been no direct cruelty involved.
"If that is the case, we need to turn our attention from the individual involved to the greyhound industry.
"We would see the Animal Welfare Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, as an opportunity to tighten up regulation of the greyhound racing industry and prevent this kind of thing from happening."
The organisation said it was not aware of another case of its type, but estimated that up to 12,000 greyhounds a year are being put down once their racing career is over.
League Against Cruel Sports president Annette Crosbie said: "The greyhound industry often boasts about how it is taking its responsibility to greyhound welfare more seriously than it used to.
"But it has known about the scandal of disappearing greyhounds for years and its response has been too little and too late - especially for the 10,000 dogs that may be buried in County Durham."