Misery for dogs at filthy farm

We received video footage of animals living in hazardous, putrid conditions at a farm in Wales. A warrant was obtained so our inspectors and a vet accompanied police to search the premises.

Multiple breeds living without bedding, food or water

Several breeds of dog – including West Highland terriers, schnauzers, cocker spaniels, beagle-types and pugs – were found living in appalling conditions. Many were covered in urine and faeces with no sign of food, water or bedding. 

Two dogs in a plastic box kennel covered in faeces and urine © RSPCA

In one kennel block there was inadequate ventilation and a strong smell of ammonia. Another contained a plastic container with a hole cut out for the dogs to use as a door. Various breeds of dog, without bedding and with only dirty water, were standing on concrete floors. Their lower halves were wet and their feet were covered in urine and faeces. 

Two dogs and three pigs were roaming on the driveway, which was strewn with hazards. These included broken glass and china that appeared to have been purposely placed.

More pigs were found in an outhouse crammed with debris, including wood and empty containers. Nine calves were found without food and water, some sucking desperately on empty feeders.

Dogs removed and advice given

One cocker spaniel had a severe ear infection, a beagle-type had a ripped ear, a basset-type was thin and weak and another beagle-type was lame and had ear and eye infections. They were removed and the farmer was advised of the steps he needed to take to improve conditions for the remaining animals.

Farmer arrested on further charges

However, before this case concluded, police arrested the farmer on suspicion of animal cruelty, theft of sheep and keeping an illegal slaughterhouse. The police again called us for assistance.

When we attended, along with a vet, all the kennels in the main block were found soaking wet, with faeces, urine and entrails over the floor.

Numerous dogs of assorted breeds were caged in one large area – many of the females appeared to be pregnant or had already given birth. Another block contained a black-and-white cocker spaniel, crouching nervously in the corner over her two newborn puppies.

A shed was found with 20 sheep and two pigs inside without lighting, ventilation, food, water or bedding. Around half the sheep had ripped ears, as if their ear tags had been torn out. A newborn lamb had been trampled to death by the adult animals.

There were many other dead animals found around the farm, some in unusual places such as a van and a caravan.

A horrific environment

RSPCA Inspector Gemma Cooper said:

It was unimaginable, there were puppies being born in faeces. It was a horrific environment.

Thirty-four dogs were taken into possession by the police and handed to us. They were all washed, groomed, clipped and vaccinated, and then taken to a private boarding facility. Their numbers soon increased as more puppies were born.

Exhibited a disregard for animal welfare

The farmer showed no remorse. He was uncooperative and on occasion tried to intimidate inspectors.

The district judge stated this was:

An avoidable case of ill treatment and crossed the custody threshold.

It appears you have a propensity to have a cavalier attitude to animal welfare. The harm to animals I have seen in the photos has, on some occasions, been extreme, and must have been obvious to you. Things are made worse because you are a person in special responsibility, you are a farmer and your livelihood arises from livestock. Your previous convictions make matters worse because you had warnings.

The farmer eventually entered guilty pleas in respect of seven offences and was given two months’ imprisonment for breach of a previous suspended sentence in addition to the five-month sentence.

Summary

  • Investigating officers: RSPCA Inspectors Christine Coleman and Gemma Cooper
  • Defendant: Male 38, farmer
  • Offences: Animal Welfare Act 2006 s4 and s9
  • Plea: Guilty
  • Convictions: Seven
  • Sentence: Disqualified from keeping animals for five years; five months' imprisonment; £750 costs.
  • Prosecuted by: Wilson Devonald Griffiths John Solicitors
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