#TheList commercial breeder Simon Davis, born c. 1985, of Acacia Crescent, Bedworth CV12 – cropped American bulldog puppies’ ears with razor blades before selling them for thousands of pounds to celebrity clients
Davis, who trades under the name Lions Lair Kennels, admitted to cropping the ears of seven puppies. He was arrested on 30 January 2019, after the RSPCA and Warwickshire Police carried out a joint raid at his home address.
During the raid, they found seven kennels, in a converted garage building in his back garden, containing eight American Bulldogs.
The RSPCA gathered a range of evidence, including before and after photographs and medical appliances such as syringes, razor blades and forceps were seized from both properties.
A further nine American Bulldogs were found at Mr Davis’s mother’s house nearby on Chelsey Road, including two pregnant dogs and six with cropped ears.
The RSPCA urge people to never buy a dog with cropped ears, and have taken seven of the dogs into care to be re-homed.
Sentencing: 18 weeks in jail suspended for 12 months. Ordered to carry out 160 hours of unpaid work and pay £10,973 in costs. A 15-year ban on keeping and dealing in dogs.
The puppies, which have since been rehomed, showed signs of worms and had fur matted with excrement and burns on their skin, magistrates were told.
The court was told Rushmer’s late husband Michael had started a puppy farm to clear debts and later involved his daughter Zoe Rushmer, her partner Jacob Murphy and later his son, also called Michael Rushmer.
She admitted having provided premises for the puppy farm in Thurlton, though her lawyer said she had been coerced into it and was subjected to violence.
RSPCA inspector Amy Pellegrini, who worked on the case for four years, said some puppies were “emaciated”.
The RSPCA removed 74 dogs including several pregnant bitches, one of whom had 93 puppies.
“Being that age, they were very lucky to be alive in those conditions,” she said, speaking outside court.
“That’s not something that we see every day. To see something like that is very upsetting.”
Jacob Murphy, Michael Rushmer and Zoe Rushmer were sentenced in June 2019 for having sold ill or dying dogs they pretended had come from a family environment.
They kept some of the 74 animals in cages, dark sheds and a caravan in temperatures up to 30C (86F), Norwich Crown Court was told.
Murphy and Michael Rushmer were each jailed for 42 months, while Zoe Rushmer was given a two-year suspended jail sentence. They were all banned from keeping animals for life.
Sentencing: 14-week curfew; banned from buying or selling dogs for two years.
#TheList puppy farmer Mark Burgess, born 22/05/1980, of Paddock View, Brenzett, Romney Marsh TN29 0BE – for multiple animal welfare offences.
A raid on a pet farm – during which inspectors found a puppy frozen in a freezer – led to a conviction for traveller Mark Burgess on eight animal welfare offences.
RSPCA inspectors descended on the Old Ashford Road in Brenzett, near Ashford, following complaints by four members of the public.
The complainants had purchased puppies from Burgess between December 2017 and February 2018, with all of the animals quickly falling ill and dying.
Footage captured during the early morning raid showed soaked bedding, shelters with bare, rotten floorboards and dogs chained to kennels.
In the bodycam video a range of concerns were highlighted, including a cat that was found shivering in a turned-off freezer.
RSPCA inspectors noted incidents of skin disease, claws growing into toepads and cat flu amongst the animals on the farm.
Among the more shocking discoveries caught on camera was the charred corpse of a small animal discovered in a “burner drum”.
Lead RSPCA Inspector Carroll Lamport said: “We found a mix of different breeds at the site including beagles, Dalmatians, spaniels and dachshund crosses.
“Some were pregnant, others had litters of tiny puppies while some had clear signs that they’d been used for breeding previously.
“Some of the dogs were extremely frightened and shut down. Some were living in almost complete darkness and others were huddled at the back of their runs.
“One beagle was sitting uncomfortably in a filthy, wet kennel. She looked so depressed.
“When we searched a freezer on-site we made a horrifying discovery; a small, four-week-old puppy.
“The body was frozen rigid and dumped in the bottom of a blood-soaked freezer.”
In total, 20 dogs were found living in unsuitable conditions and were seized by police and placed into RSPCA care – 12 adults and eight puppies.
Two cats and three kittens suffering from cat flu were also seized and later signed over.
An elderly German Shepherd – which it’s believed was Burgess’ personal pet – was showing signs of skin disease, muscle wastage and weak back legs after being found living outside, tethered to an old wooden kennel.
The German Shepherd was put to sleep but the remaining dogs were all signed over into RSPCA care and rehomed.
Eight infringements of the Animal Welfare Act were levelled at the 39-year-old, including causing unnecessary suffering to puppies by failing to investigate and address the cause of the animal’s ill health and by selling the animal in an unfit state.
Other convictions include failing to provide veterinary care in respect of a beagle’s eye condition and failing to provide a number of dogs with a suitable environment and diet.
At the sentencing hearing, Burgess’s lawyer Gordon Crow read a letter written by his client.
It said: “You’ve found me guilty of selling three puppies that I should have realised were ill and should’ve taken to the vet.
“I accept your decision and I apologise to all concerned.
“I’ve been brought up around animals and love being around them more than people.
“Since being found guilty it’s been a nightmare.
“I’ve even been shunned by my own traveller community.
“It’s my animals that have given me strength recently.
“I’ve always said I’ll pay the money back to the buyers and I’m sorry for what they’ve gone through.”
District Judge Justin Barron told Burgess: “I found your behaviour negligent in the sense that you sold these puppies and should have further investigated the cause of their illness, identified that illness and not going on to sell them.
“The animals should not have been sold in the condition that they were in.”
He said Mr Burgess’s “standards fell short”.
The RSPCA had requested Burgess should be banned from keeping dogs.
The judge responded: “From the latest evidence I have seen the dogs you are now keeping are well cared for and I do not see there is a need to ban you from keeping dogs.”
The judge described a press release issued after Burgess’s conviction at Canterbury Crown Court in August as being an “emotional statement not appropriately balanced”.
“It led to the impression he had been found guilty of deliberately and gratuitously causing suffering to animals which wasn’t my finding.”
He said the case had led him to consider “whether the RSPCA should continue to conduct its own prosecution”.
Sentencing: two-year community order, 30 days probation, a six-month curfew and a ban on the selling of dogs for two years.