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Pensioner guilty of cruelty to 63 dogs

A SEVENTY-FIVE-year-old man who had already been banned by magistrates from keeping animals for five years was found guilty last week of causing suffering to 63 dogs and 42 ferrets on his land.

Walford Rogers, of Cwmbran, Torfaen, South Wales had denied failing to give 105 animals on his land food, water and shelter.

Magistrates adjourned sentence for reports until 20 December, but said they were not ruling anything out as regards sentencing, including custody.

The case had been adjourned earlier in the day when the magistrates took offence at a remark made by the defending solicitor.

Earlier, Rogers had told the court that he had signed a legal document which gave custody, care, control and ownership of his dogs to a man called Colin Clayton. After the guilty verdict, court chairman Dr David Rowlands told him there was no dispute he had ‘deeded ownership’ to Mr Clayton and that the animals were found at Rogers' address.

‘We have listened closely to the evidence based on this we are in no doubt the animals were caused unnecessary suffering,’ said Dr Rowlands. ‘In relation to the matter of control custody and responsibility of these animals we are in no doubt Mr Rogers exercised control.

‘We are in no doubt in the very least you had joint control of these animals which were on land in close proximity to your home.’

The court heard that until the animals seized were re-homed it had cost the RSPCA £101,821.28, and prosecution costs were more than £7,000. Mr Rogers declined to comment following the hearing.

Before the verdict, Huw Davies, for Rogers, had told the magistrates they should not allow sympathy for the prosecution to influence their decision and said they must be true to their oaths.
Dr Rowlands said he should not have made the remarks, but Mr Davies claimed there was bias and called for a retrial.

Mr Rogers, who had already been banned from keeping animals for five years, denied causing suffering to 63 dogs and 42 ferrets.

Cwmbran magistrates were told the animals were found in ‘filthy conditions’ in August 2006 by RSPCA inspectors.

Rogers claimed the animals did not belong to him. He said he had always kept large numbers of dogs but following his ban he had disposed of his pets.

The court also heard from Mr Clayton, who said he was the sole owner of the dogs and ferrets that had been seized from Mr Rogers' land. He said he would go to the smallholding twice a day to feed, clean and exercise the animals and told the court how he would collect waste from restaurants for the animals.

Speaking outside the court, RSPCA inspector Nicola Johnson said she was ‘extremely relieved’ Mr Rogers had been found guilty, and the animals had been found in appalling conditions.

She said: ‘The smell, the state of the dogs themselves - no animal should have to live in the conditions that we found. All the animals have been re-homed. A couple had to be put down because of illness or the mental state they were in, but out of 105 animals we sorted out 101,’ she added.