Rebecca Perkins, a greyhound trainer with 17 years experience, has been jailed for 36 weeks and banned for keeping animals for life after pleading guilty to three Animal Welfare Act offences relating to the treatment of 38 greyhounds.
Perkins’ treatment of her dogs was brought to the attention of the RSPCA by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB), the regulatory body for licensed racing, following an unannounced spot check at the premises where Perkins kept her dogs in September last year.
Upon arrival at the farm, the area stipendiary steward from GBGB saw a black greyhound lying inside a small plastic portable kennel. The dog struggled to get out of the kennel, and was described as being in a “disgraceful condition” and being “so thin and emaciated” that the dog “could hardly walk”. More severely underweight greyhounds were found in stable blocks – as well as the skeleton of a small dog that had been there for some time.
When Perkins returned home, the steward had her open the main kennel block – and later reported that the stench inside left him feeling “immediately sick”, as excrement was all over the floor of the kennels. The dogs inside kennels were in shocking conditions, with “many being extremely thin and emaciated”. The bodies of a further four dead dogs were also found across the farm.
After receiving the call from GBGB, RSPCA inspector Claire Mitchell and animal rescue officer (ARO) Daniel Richardson attended the farm. Mitchell later said, “Every single kennel in this kennel block was heavily soiled with faeces and urine, as was all the bedding for the greyhounds.
“The smell in the (main) kennel block was overpowering and almost unbearable.”
ARO Richardson said in his witness statement, “As we walked down the first row, we noticed nearly all of the pens had greyhounds in, several of which were deceased. There were living dogs in the kennels with the deceased dogs.
“The majority of the dogs were very skinny and several were unable to stand. I noticed the dogs were in very poor body condition, I noticed fur loss and sores on many of the dogs. One in particular had a nasty open wound on its front leg. I noticed several of the kennels containing deceased dogs that were in different stages of decay.”
While Perkins signed the dogs over to the RSPCA, for some of them help came too late – with one greyhound dying before it reached a vet for treatment, and three more put to sleep on welfare grounds within the next few days.
An independent vet told the court, “I have been shown a number of photographs of the conditions all the dogs were living in and would say that their needs haven’t been met as required by good practice due to the heavily soiled living area.”
He added, “In my opinion all 37 dogs were suffering for a minimum of two weeks, but likely several weeks, possibly a couple of months, due to their multiple issues.”
Perkins admitted causing 37 greyhounds to suffer unnecessarily as a result of her failure to secure veterinary attention addressing their poor body condition. She also admitted causing three of the greyhounds to suffer after failing to ensure vet care to address lameness and sores; and to failing to provide a suitable, hygienic environment for 35 of the greyhounds. She cited a recent health scare and financial issues.
Perkins was jailed for a total of 36 weeks, with an 18-week custodial sentence for each of the offences concerning the greyhounds suffering unnecessarily, which will run consecutively. She was given a further 12 week prison sentence for the offence concerning the greyhounds’ unsuitable environment, which will run concurrently.
In addition to the jail term and a lifetime ban on keeping all animals, Perkins was ordered to pay a £187 victim surcharge. She may not appeal her ban against keeping animals for 10 years.
All the surviving dogs thrived in the care of the RSPCA, who is now in the process of rehoming them all.
Images by the RSPCA