#TheList farmer Michael Rice, born c. 1950, of High View, Woodland Head, Crediton EX17 5HE – kept cattle in appalling conditions; failed to treat very poorly cow.
Officers described the living conditions for the animals throughout the farm as ‘generally poor’, as several animals did not have a dry lying area and had access to sharp objects which posed a risk to their health such as farm machinery and rusty nails.
The case was brought by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service following an investigation into concerns for the welfare of his cattle.
Trading standards officers and a vet from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) visited the farm and discovered a bovine which appeared to have been unable to stand for several weeks with no access to water or supplementary feed.
Rice had previously been advised by a vet that if the animal’s health didn’t improve it should be culled. However several weeks later, when trading standards visited his farm, he had made no attempt to do so.
The vet believed that the animal was subjected to ‘avoidable and unnecessary suffering’ under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 both by failure to cull without delay and failure to isolate the sick animal and house it in suitable accommodation with dry comfortable bedding.
District Judge Matson described the conditions on the farm as ‘appalling’ and the condition the bovine was left in as ‘extremely upsetting and distressing’.
Sentencing: 16-week suspended prison sentence, fined £6,970 and banned from keeping animals for 10 years.
#TheList puppy farmer David Thomas, born born 31/12/1944 , of Wallis, Ambleston, Haverfordwest SA62 – failed to care for 25 Labradors, allowing them to suffer unnecessarily and live in a “filthy and hazardous” environment.
Thomas pleaded guilty to three animal welfare offences.
The court heard Thomas failed to provide a suitable environment for 25 dogs, caused unnecessary suffering to five puppies by failing to explore their poor conditions, and caused unnecessary suffering to five dogs by failing to give them appropriate veterinary care for an infection involving their feet.
The dogs – found on the derelict farm – were 19 puppies and six adults.
One puppy was sadly found dead.
The 25 dogs were removed and given immediate treatment.
RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben said: “When I arrived I just remember thinking what an appalling situation this was. It was dire. These dogs and puppies were kept in filthy and hazardous conditions. They were denied access to food and water, were in danger of injury and disease, and did not have the necessary comfort in terms of shelter and bedding, and were not free to exhibit normal behaviour, by being kept in the dark with poor ventilation.
“The puppies looked thin, dehydrated and were cold, and there was evidence of caked faeces on all the puppies’ feet, and all their claws were overgrown.
“It was just horrible and just so sad to see these lovely puppies in just terrible conditions.”
The dogs were taken into the care of the local authorities for rehoming.
Inspector Hogben added: “We’d like to thank everyone who assisted in this case – the police, the local dog wardens, the local vet and Green Acres Animal Rescue.
“We really appreciate all their help in what was a challenging case, due to the numbers of dogs there.
“These dogs and puppies will now grow up in a loving, safe environment where they are given the care and attention they deserve.”
Sentencing: 24-week custodial sentence – suspended for two years. Total of £415 costs and charges. Banned from keeping dogs for life.
#TheList Lynda Elizabeth Went, born c. 1951, of Lake View Bungalow, Alford Road, Thoresthorpe, Alford LN13 9HU – for causing unnecessary suffering to horses in her care.
Lynda Went pleaded guilty to two charges, namely:
Between July 13, 2018 and September 13, 2018, at Thoresthorpe, caused unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, namely four Arab type horses, by an act, namely by failing to explore and address their overgrown hooves.
On or before September 13, 2018, at Thoresthorpe, did not take such steps as were reasonable in all circumstances to ensure that the needs of an animal for which you were responsible, namely two Arab stallions, were met to the extent required by good practice in that you did not ensure their need for a suitable environment in which to live.
Sentencing: For the first offence, Went was handed a 12 week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. During the 18 months supervision period, the defendant must also carry out 60 hours of unpaid work. Went was also ordered to pay £250 in court costs and a £115 victim surcharge. Two ‘Section 33’ orders were made to deprive Went of ownership of the horses, and a ‘Section 34’ order was imposed to disqualify her from owning horses, keeping horses, participating in keeping horses, and from being party to an arrangement under which the defendant is entitled to control or influence the way in which they are kept, for a period of five years.
For the second offence, Went was handed a 12 week concurrent suspended prison sentence.
#TheList Yvonne McAllister, born 1963, of 27 Wordsworth Close in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire BB5 4QP – kept a poorly Westie in a dirty and flea-infested cage under the stairs of her home
Cruel Yvonne McAllister pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to West Highland terrier Bobby.
The dog was spotted by a district nurse during a visit to McAllister’s home.
The court heard how McAllister told the nurse that Bobby had a skin condition for which she had bought shampoo but hadn’t taken him to the vet.
She had also bought clippers but Bobby ‘wouldn’t let anyone near him to cut his nails’.
An RSPCA officer later attended the property and said he was ‘unrecognisable to him as a West Highland Terrier’ with grey skin which was ‘leather-like, thick and dry’.
The officer said Bobby must have had the skin condition for an ‘extended period of time’ and he was ‘subdued, lethargic and reluctant to move’. When he asked to take the dog to a vet McAllister refused and said she wanted an independent assessment.
RSPCA prosecutor Paul Ridehalgh said Bobby’s skin was pink with ears ‘twice the size’ as normal and his paws were ‘overgrown and had begun to twist’.
Police were called to the property and Bobby was taken to the Myerscough Veterinary Group. Mr Ridehalgh said Bobby had to be carried into the consultancy room because he was ‘unable to walk’ and ‘so weak he could not stand up’.
The vet said his nose was ‘dry and cracked’ and she couldn’t examine his ear canal because it was ‘too inflamed’. His eyes were also covered with a ‘thick green discharge’.
The prosecutor said: ‘In the vet’s opinion he was in a very poor condition. She observed that she had never seen an animal in such a condition previously.’
The court was told that Bobby ‘highly likely had an underlying systemic disease’ which led to ‘secondary bacterial infection’.
Mr Ridehalgh said the dog had suffered ‘for a period of at least several months and possibly longer’ and had to be put down after ‘long-term neglect’.
McAllister said she couldn’t afford to take Bobby to the vet and ‘nothing was done on purpose’.
Sentencing: 12-month community order with 50 hours of unpaid work, a three-month curfew, ordered to pay £600 costs. Banned from owning or keeping animals for five years.
#TheList Kirsty Hamilton, born c. 1984, of 15 Martin Street, Bury BL9 7SF – left an emaciated Arab mare with a severe hoof infection
Hamilton pleaded guilty to four counts of failing to meet the needs of Arab mare Blossom, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
The RSPCA was contacted by a member of the public who was concerned about Blossom, kept at stables at Nook Farm, Nook Lane, Tyldesely, Astley. On investigating, the mare’s bodyweight was rated one, the lowest on a scale of one to nine, and a vet found she had a bad case of thrush in all her hooves.
Inspector Danni Jennings, said: “The horse was clearly in an emaciated state and had other problems which had not been dealt with such as overgrown teeth.
“The infection in her hooves was awful and was caused by her standing in faeces in a dark and damp stable block for a long period of time.”
In mitigation the court heard that Hamilton had personal problems and was pregnant.
Blossom was taken for treatment and is now in the care of the charity.
Sentencing: 12-month community order; curfew order; total of £1,585 costs and charges. Banned from keeping equines for just one year.
#TheList Aithne Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy, born 24/01/1995, of George Street, Atherton, Wigan M46 and brother John Declan Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy, born c. 1994, of Bolton Road, Atherton, Wigan M46 – allowed a pack of neglected ponies to roam on an industrial estate
In a prosecution brought by the RSPCA brother and sister Aithne and John Declan Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy, whose mother is convicted horse abuser Lorraine Ashurst, pleaded guilty to a string of cruelty offences.
Aithne Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy admitted seven offences related to the care of seven Welsh-type ponies while her brother pleaded guilty to four charges involving looking after the same animals.
A grey mare was found by RSPCA inspectors with her feet in terrible condition. The animal was lame from severely overgrown hooves, had an abscess and suffered from chronic laminitis.
Five of the ponies were also not protected from pain and suffering because a farrier was not employed to look after their hooves.
The seven animals were also not provided with a suitable living environment.
John Declan Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy, who has a previous conviction for horse cruelty, admitted failing to provide suitable accommodation for the ponies, not providing them with daily care and supervision to prevent harm coming to them, neglecting the grey mare and not getting a farrier for two grey mares.
Most of the animals were pregnant and one sadly died from complications giving birth after the RSPCA had rescued them.
Animal welfare inspectors found the terrified creatures causing chaos at a glass manufacturer’s site in Hindley after escaping from their grazing grounds.
They had also crossed a main road streaming with traffic during their wanderings.
RSPCA inspector Alison Fletcher said: “This case highlights the need for responsible equine ownership. Horses need to be contained in a suitable and secure environment.
“There have been a lot of problems with straying horses in Wigan over the years and it causes a risk to the animals and to people.
“The ponies had got off the land where they were originally being kept, gone down a main road and ended up on an industrial estate. It was extremely dangerous for them and they were very fearful.
“This case also highlights the basic needs horses have, like regular foot trimming. If this doesn’t happen it can cause them immense suffering.
“You can’t just have a pet horse in a field. The costs of looking after them are extremely high and people need to think through what they are going to need before they take on an equine.”
The animals were so frightened they had to be sedated for inspectors’ safety during the operation to remove them on February 2, a day after the welfare charity was called about them.
Defending Aithne Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy, Paul Blanchard said ownership of the horses had been transferred to her from other family members in December 2017 and she had to take responsibility for what subsequently happened to them.
Peter Leather, representing John Declan Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy, said his client admitted neglecting the ponies after being tasked with maintaining the fences and keeping their enclosure secure as well as feeding them hay each day.
Sentencing: John Declan Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy – 120 hours of unpaid work; £2,400 costs plus £85 victim surcharge Aithne Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy – 70 hours of unpaid work; £1,200 costs plus £85 victim surcharge.
Both were banned from keeping horses for two years and deprivation orders were made to take the six surviving ponies and their foals away from the Ashurst-O’Shaughnessys.
#TheList backyard breeder and serial animal abuser Amarpal Singh, born c. 1986, of 6 Banks Way, Manor Park, Newham, London E12 5NZ – neglected 23 dogs and puppies in home reeking of animal urine and faeces.
Amarpal Singh forced seven alapaha bulldogs and 16 puppies to live in such sickening conditions they became malnourished and underweight.
One of the dogs had to have her tail amputated.
Notorious greeder Singh had already been issued with an improvement notice in 2015, when Newham Animal Welfare Services and police officers found three dogs living in filthy conditions in his back garden.
Singh said he’d clear up the area, and the dogs were taken away.
However when officers visited his home again in November 2017 they found the 23 animals squeezed into the house which stunk of urine and faeces.
Pc Holly Hoare, who led the investigation, said: “After seeing the conditions the dogs were living in, I wouldn’t want any dogs to be living in this way ever again.
“When we went to the address, the puppies were very quiet and unable to interact with us. A number of the dogs were showing signs of diarrhoea and there was little evidence of water or food.”
Pc Hoare added: “They were all living in extremely poor conditions, with excrement that had not be cleared up in a number of days. Some of the dogs were in cages that were too small for them and it was distressing to see them in such a poor state of health.”
Sentencing: 200 hours of unpaid work. Total of £1,360 costs and charges. Banned from dealing in, owning or keeping dogs for just two years (expires December 2020).
#TheList puppy dealer James Featon, born c. 1968, of Roughaw Road, Skipton BD23 – kept 23 dogs in poor conditions at a Selby pig farm
Gypsy traveller Featon pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to dogs after two adult dogs and 21 puppies were found in “disgusting conditions” in pig pens on a farm in North Duffield, near Selby.
RSPCA officers and North Yorkshire Police visited the farm on 7 October 2017 where the dogs were found living in pig pens.
The animals were taken into immediate veterinary care. Sadly, only 18 of the dogs survived.
RSPCA Inspector Alice Cooper, who led the investigation, said:
“Some of the puppies were in very poor condition; thin and lethargic with swollen, distended abdomens.
“Three Jack Russell terrier puppies had collapsed.
“Police seized all of the dogs and we rushed them to the vets where a number of the pups were diagnosed with parvovirus – a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease.
“They were all hospitalised and needed intensive veterinary treatment but, unfortunately, we lost four because they were so incredibly poorly.”
Eighteen dogs – including spaniels, lurchers and crossbreeds – pulled through and were taken in by RSPCA centres while the investigation was ongoing.
Inspector Cooper added: “Our investigations established that Mr Featon was buying in dogs from Ireland and elsewhere in England, and then selling them on to the public.
“However, he was keeping the dogs in disgusting conditions and had categorically failed to provide veterinary care to those that had fallen ill.”
PC Sarah Ward of North Yorkshire Police said: “I’m very pleased with the result and thankful that we found the puppies when we did, saving them from more suffering.
“They were kept in cold, damp conditions without their mums and most of them were very ill with a number needing urgent veterinary attention.
“Sadly, some did not make it.
“We urge members of the public to only ever buy puppies from reputable dog breeders or adopt a rescue dog from a known charity.”
The dogs – which have all been in RSPCA care during the investigation – were signed over this week and can now be rehomed. They will be available after Christmas.
Inspector Cooper added: “Unfortunately this sort of thing is something we see all too often at the RSPCA.
“Breeding and selling puppies is big business and with certain breeds selling for hundreds if not thousands of pounds there are a lot of people trying to cash in.
“Sadly, some sellers like Mr Featon will put profits ahead of the health and welfare of the dogs.
“This is completely unacceptable.
Sentencing: total of £460 in fines, costs and charges. Disqualified from dealing in dogs, meaning he can own dogs as pets but isn’t to be involved in commercial activity involving dogs.
#TheList Laura Kiseliova, born 14/06/1979, and Raimondas Titas, born 13/03/1981, formerly of Ladywell Avenue, Manchester M38, but believed to have fled to their native Lithuania – imported and sold sick ‘designer’ pets
Lithuanians Laura Kiseliova and Raimondas Titas kept sick dogs and cats in filthy, cramped cages to sell for thousands of pounds.
They set up an online “puppy farm” called Pets313 and encouraged customers to buy popular breeds like pugs and french bulldogs.
However, when customers went to the couple’s house in Salford, Greater Manchester they were quickly persuaded to take the pets home, unaware that the canines hadn’t received vital injections or veterinary care.
And when they arrived home, the dogs suddenly became ill and lethargic after having been kept in dire conditions in small cages or crates in a garage.
Despite buyers being told they were receiving British-bred pups, they were actually getting Eastern European dogs that had travelled over to the UK on a Pet Passport bought by the Lithuanian couple.
The pair were sentenced to years behind bars at Manchester Crown Court in their absence, as they fled abroad before the hearing on Thursday 13/12/2018.
They had previously pleaded guilty to a total of 29 charges, including several animal welfare offences.
RSPCA inspectors, police and trading standards found 41 dogs and eight cats when they searched their previous home in Prestwich on November 18, 2013.
They discovered the pair were trafficking dogs under the pet passport scheme, and selling them to members of the public under the company name Pets 313 Ltd.
Officers also found more than 40 pet passports which didn’t match the dogs at the property, suggesting they were passing off trafficked dogs as those bred in the UK.
The dogs who were found included French bulldogs and pugs, as well as pedigree cats, which were being sold for between £800 and £1,000 each.
The pair were charged with a number of offences, including failing to provide them with a suitable environment, and failing to provide veterinary care.
One of the RSPCA investigators leading the operation, who didn’t want to be named, said: “The front room of the property was being used to sell the animals to members of the public but it was when you entered the rest of the house the scale of this operation became apparent.
“There were cages and pens containing different breeds of dogs in almost every room including a litter of puppies in a filthy ensuite bathroom upstairs. In a large garage at the back we found cages of animals stacked on top of each other.
“It was clear there were some cats and puppies that needed immediate veterinary treatment and sadly two of the puppies that were rushed to the vets for treatment later died from parvovirus.
“There was little sign of proper isolation pens for sick animals or biosecurity measures meaning any animal that passed through this place would be at risk of catching and spreading diseases and parasites.
“This was a large money-making operation at the expense of the welfare of the animals and the unsuspecting members of public who thought they were buying healthy, happy puppies.”
RSPCA SOU Chief Insp Ian Briggs said: “It was obvious that this duo were dealing and trading in a large number of animals and that many of them were not receiving the appropriate care and veterinary attention they needed.
“Some of the animals were suffering from problems such as conjunctivitis, gastroenteritis or had sore and infected wounds.”
Most of the animals have been signed over into RSPCA care and have been rehomed.
Chief Insp Briggs added: “We have seen a concerning increase in the number of calls we are receiving about large-scale traders dealing, predominantly, in puppies.
“We are regularly appalled by the conditions we find puppies living in and the stories we hear from owners who have, just days after bringing their puppy home, held their new dog as he died in their arms from preventable diseases and infections.
“Unfortunately, a major factor in this trade is traffickers – such as this pair – bringing in poorly pups from abroad, without the right vaccinations and documents, and selling them to unsuspecting buyers here in England.”
Sentencing: Kiseliova was sentenced to a total of four years in prison while Titas was jailed for three years and six months. Both were banned from keeping pets for life.
#TheList Eamonn Keegan, born c. 1981, of Charles Street, Portadown, Craigavon BT62 – “chose to buy alcohol over taking his dog to a vet”
Eamonn Keegan pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to animals at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court.
It was heard that on April 22, 2018, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier was found at the back of the defendant’s home in Portadown.
The dog appeared malnourished and had an injury to his left eye.
He was tied by 1.5-metre of chain to a squalid kennel and had no access to food or water.
The Staffy was taken by the local dog warden as he was in need of urgent medical attention.
A veterinarian concluded that the dog had been enduring the ulceration to his left eye for some time and was severely underweight.
When interviewed, Keegan stated that he had been treating the eye ailment himself.
Defence solicitor John McAtamney said: “Mr Keegan has no relevant previous offences, he does have a considerable record but other than a speeding offence in 2015 he has not been before the court since 2005”.
He stated: “This was a case of passive neglect through there not being adequate water and food for the dog, rather than active mistreatment”.
Mr McAtamney explained that Keegan had been drinking for four or five days and had left the dog in a “poor state”.
Adding: “Mr Keegan had been on a binge and had neglected his responsibilities”.
Addressing the eye ulceration, Mr McAtamney stated that the infection dated back to October of 2017.
He commented that the defendant had not been able to afford to take the dog to the vet and so treated it himself with saline drops.
District Judge Bernie Kelly stated: “Whilst I accept that this was a case of passive neglect, I also accept that Mr Keegan deliberately chose to buy alcohol over taking his dog to a vet.
“Anyone who wants to have animals as pets has to be responsible for them.
“Until society recognises this importance, it will not encourage proper responsible pet owners”.
Judge Kelly added: “Animals can’t ring up 999 and ask for help, all they can do is suffer”.
She said that there was only one penalty she could impose as the defendant was sentenced to two months in prison.
Keegan was also told that a lifelong ban was being placed on him keeping animals as pets.
Sentencing: two months in jail; lifetime ban on keeping animals.