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Gloucestershire Business News

Former Gloucestershire pensioner banned from keeping dogs

A former Forest of Dean pensioner has been banned from keeping dogs for life after she admitted causing unnecessary suffering to pets in her care at a suspected puppy farm.

Margaret Davies,74, formerly of Awre Road, Blakeney, Glos, but now of Amhurst Crescent, Barry, South Wales appeared before Cheltenham Magistrates Court on Monday (November 14) having admitted five animal welfare charges the previous week.

She pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a 14-month-old French Bulldog called Winston by failing to get veterinary treatment for a variety of conditions and a similar charge involving another French Bulldog, 'Amelia,' by failing to get treatment for tumours and blindness in one eye.

Davies also admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a seven-year-old Schnauzer, 'Nathalie,' by failing to provide veterinary treatment for severe and painful periodontitis which led to 20 teeth having to be extracted.

She also admitted to meet the needs of 27 dogs and puppies in her care by failing to provide adequate drinking water, clean bedding, a suitable diet and protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease on July 1, 2021.

Three charges against Mrs Davies' husband William Davies were withdrawn after the prosecution offered no evidence.

Barrister Greg Gordon, representing Forest of Dean District Council, explained that the local authority had received reports that the couple had been running an unlicensed puppy farm at their home at Hagloe House in Blakeney.

Mr Gordon said: "As a result of this information, council officers and police officers attended the property on July 1, 2021, with a search warrant and found a large amount of dogs on the property, many with litters, which confirmed to them that unlicensed breading of puppies was being undertaken.

"However, Davies was never charged with this offence as the conditions that the dogs were being kept, under the terms of the Welfare Act, was considered to be far more serious.

"Additionally, it was considered at this time that there was enough evidence to charge the couple with running an unlicensed puppy farm. However, paperwork produced during the preparation for the three-day trial revealed such allegations as being confirmed, and that it had been running for many, many years."

Mr Gordon went on to explain that the dogs were housed in four separate places - two barns that were in a state of disrepair, outside metal pens and inside the main house.

"In the first barn, which had been converted into kennels, was home to two Corgis, three terriers and a Samoyed. There was an overpowering and acrid smell of urine and faeces, which got worse the further in the inspectors' entered the building as it had poor natural light and poor ventilation.

"The central walkway was surrounded by separate pens and was covered in used bedding which was covered in faeces. Each kennel had a concrete floor had a very thin layer of shredded paper. There was no clean or comfortable bedding provided and there was no access to water. In each of the kennels there was a build-up of faeces, and it was obvious that these pens hadn't been cleaned for some time. The water bowls were empty and there were no separate eating or sleeping areas and no space for them to move around.

"What appears to have happened is that the dogs were rotated from one pen to another rather than cleaning them. The empty pens showed that they hadn't been cleaned for some time.

"In a second barn, which was much worse than the first, had even poorer natural light, there were 12 dogs: four French bulldogs, housed in enclosed kennels, and four Schnauzers and four terriers, house in open-fronted kennels. The bulldogs were in enclosed pens which did not get a throughput of fresh air which resulted in the barn becoming extremely hot.

The concrete floor had a thin covering of bedding, which had become soaked in urine. The barn had an excess amount of flies due to the amount of faeces and lack of cleaning.

"None of the dogs had access to water, despite the hot conditions. However, there was one bowl of water in the barn that was contaminated with faeces.

"These dogs were penned into what would be classed as overcrowding. The whole site raised health concerns and was suffering from a lack of pest control.

"These dogs should have been seen by a veterinarian. One of the bulldogs had visible problems with its eyes and it has since lost its sight due to the negligence of its owner."

Mr Gordon then explained that the open pens, made of metal fencing, had no roofing for the animals to shelter from the sun or the rain. The two Scotties and two corgis were entirely exposed to the elements.

"There was an accumulation of faeces within the pens, indicating they hadn't been cleaned out for some time. There was little in the way of water for any of these dogs," the prosecutor added.

"Inside the main dwelling house there was a corgi with a litter of eight puppies, a Schnauzer with a litter of puppies. One of the corgi puppies was immediately seized by the inspectors, as it was unresponsive and lifeless and shown to Davies, who appeared to be wholly uncaring over its welfare.

"The Corgi and her puppies were placed in front of an Aga which was very hot and being in the month of July, it was very hot, and the animals had no escape from the heat.

"There was a cage in a back room, which was poorly lit and had poor ventilation. Two Schnauzers were housed inside, each with their litter of puppies. A heat lamp was resting directly on top of the cage making the metalwork too hot to touch. One of these puppies, belonging to a Schnauzer, was also lifeless."

The court heard that the following day, July 2, 2021, the Davies' were served with an improvement notice, but they made little effort to comply with the order.

Mr Gordon said: "Officers returned 14 days later and found that the improvement notice had largely been ignored and the conditions in the second barn were even hotter than when they previously visited the property.

"The couple had provided fire extinguishers and made some attempt at pest control, but little else - in fact things had got worse with even less drinking water available."

The court heard that a Scottish terrier, Keith had severely matted coating of faeces and urine and only had a single tooth remaining which was infected and when it was removed it was revealed that it had a root abscess which had made a hole through to its nostril. Another Scottish terrier had mammary tumours which had spread to her lungs. She was also pregnant and required emergency surgery due to her puppies dying in her womb. Alice, A French bulldog had surgery to repair a hernia.

Mr Gordon concluded that none of the dogs seized by the local authority appeared to have been socialised or handled with any care or affection and said that the Davies' viewed these dogs as commodities and not pets'.

Davies claimed that they used a particular vet, but when the council made checks with the veterinarian, he said he had not treated any of the Davies' dogs for a good number of years.

The court heard that Margaret Davies had been convicted in January 2015 for keeping a breading establishment without a license between February and July, 2014. She was prohibited from keeping a breading establishment for three years, which expired in 2018.

Mr Gordon said: "It is clear that order was not observed as paperwork shows that Davies was active during this period. This evidence only became available during the investigation for the trial."

Heath Thomas, defending, said that his client would benefit from a pre-sentence report before she is sentenced.

District Judge Nicholas Wattam imposed an immediate ban on Davies owning dogs for the rest of her life.

He also ordered for pre-sentence reports to be prepared on her. Davies was released on unconditional bail to return to the court on February 6 for sentencing.

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