A man from Crawley, West Sussex, was handed down an 18-week prison sentence – suspended for 12 months – after pleading guilty to seven offences under the Animal Welfare Act.
RSPCA officers first visited a property in Crawley in April, after receiving complaints about a large number of animals in the home. While officers were able to give the owner advice concerning a spaniel with a very matted coat, they were refused entry and were unable to see the other animals.
Two days later, they returned along with Sussex police, who had obtained a warrant.
“An independent vet checked all of the animals and 16 dogs and two cats were seized, under the Animal Welfare Act, and taken for veterinary treatment,” the RSPCA says. “These included chihuahuas, spaniels and rottweilers. They were all signed over at a later date and taken into RSPCA care.”
Many of the dogs were suffering from ear infections, skin disease, conjunctivitis, and dental disease – with two spaniels found in critical condition. All pets have since been rehomed except for one spaniel, who had to be put to sleep despite veterinary treatment.
Inspector Tony Woodley, who led the investigation, said, “The interior of the house was dimly lit. The ‘living room’ area with a sofa and very large TV was accessible by the cats, rottweilers and chihuahuas. There were food and water bowls in this area.”
“To the rear of this was an area of approximately 4m x 2.5m which contained the spaniels. This area had a strong smell and the walls and floor were stained with either faeces or dirt or a mixture of the two. There was a human bed in this area with a mattress. The mattress was stained brown and there were blankets on it which were also brown and covered in faeces or mud.
“The floor had concrete missing in places and two dogs were cowering in the area where a draw was missing from a wooden chest of drawers. There were no water or food bowls in this area. In this area I saw packs of dog food but this was not accessible to the dogs.
“I was alarmed by the condition of many of these animals and there seemed to be a general lack of care for these animals. The spaniels looked like they had been roughly de-matted with a sharp implement and some of these dogs had open wounds.”
Along with the suspended sentence, the defendant was disqualified from keeping animals for life and ordered to complete 10 rehabilitation activity requirement days, as well as pay costs and a victim surcharge of £278.
While his solicitor told the court that he was not the owner of the animals and had been struggling with physical and mental health issues, the court “determined that he had taken a leading role in the offences which involved prolonged and serious neglect”.
Images by RSPCA