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Dalmatian breeder disputes allegations

A DALMATIAN breeder has had a number dogs taken after allowing more than 50 of her dogs to run wild on her land.

Breeder Michelle Cousins’ neighbours told the RSPCA that the dogs are kept in appalling conditions. There were even cases where dogs had strayed off her land and were found drowned in nearby swimming pools. Ms Cousins has disputed the allegations levelled against her
Last month firefighters were called to the property in Cornwall and rescued four Dalmatians which were stuck up to their necks after clambering into a sewage tank. The RSPCA has now removed a handful of them but says it cannot take further action because the rest are given the basic needs of food, water and shelter.

Officials say they are 'working' with Ms Cousins but animal charities have called for urgent action to remove all the Dalmatians from her care.

Neighbours say the the pack roams free at Cousins's secludedfarm and that they live in poor conditions and are a noise nuisance.

It is is alleged one customer recently demanded a refund after finding out that the Dalmatian she bought for £500 was deaf. One neighbour, who did not want to be identified, said: 'It's horrendous. They have all got mange and some of them seem to be blind. You would be absolutely horrified at some of the things we have seen and heard. Everyone is fed up with the howling and we have had enough. The RSPCA just aren't doing enough and have washed their hands of it.'

RSPCA Spokesman Jo Barr confirmed that at least one Dalmatian had been found dead in a swimming pool near Cousin's farm.

Skin problems

She said: 'We are aware of at least one occasion where a dog was found in water near to the farm. Ms Cousins has already agreed to sign over six Dalmatians to be seen by a vet and we have offered to take more. The conditions are far from ideal and twelve currently do have skin problems with mange.

‘We are visiting the farm every week and as far as we are aware there have been no new litters from some time. They are receiving food and water and shelter in a large barn on the land. Noise nuisance is a matter for the police. We are working with her but if anyone does have specific animal welfare issues we would urge them to contact us.'

Rex Harper, a retired RSPCA warden in Cornwall said: 'People start off with the best will in the world but they get fanatical, take on too many animals and things go wrong. It's expensive enough looking after just one dog.'

Ms Cousins claimed she was the victim of a 'witch hunt' by her neighbours. She also denied breeding and selling dogs and claimed she operates a dalmatian rescue service.'I have become the victim of what can best be described as a witch hunt,' she said. 'It is a campaign of harassment with the supposed aim of trying to totally discredit me. This is despite being made fully aware of the circumstances behind me having the number of dogs I do and the fact that some of the dogs appeared to be suffering various afflictions.

‘I run a private dalmatian rescue service which, essentially, aims to give a chance of life to puppies born that have reduced or no commercial value. For example, they may suffer from deafness, heart problems or digestive disorders. I have been the victim of malicious accusations and reports to the RSPCA so I have frequently been the subject of visits. I have been a victim of prejudice and bullying. I am compliant with the Animal Welfare Act.'