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Case continues in starving dog horror


More than 100 starving dogs living in cramped and filthy conditions have been discovered in a raid on a North-East farm, a court heard this week.

A total of dogs were discovered living amid their own faeces in unsuitable pens, cages, barns, vans and trucks at Bog Hall Farm in County Durham.

Farm worker Marc Ian Young, appeared at Teesside Magistrates’ Court to deny a number of offences relating to the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The offences included: failing to give 102 dogs a wholesome diet; failing to provide necessary care for 144 dogs with flea and lice infestation; failing to give veterinary care to 26 dogs suffering from severe dental disease; failing to treat infected wounds on eight dogs and failing to obtain veterinary treatment for a dog with a fractured leg.

At an earlier hearing, the owner of the farm, Paul Nigel Brown, from east Cleveland, had admitted a number of charges relating to causing unnecessary suffering and failing to meet the needs of 144 dogs.

The court was told that RSPCA inspectors visited the farm, along with police officers and a vet on April 24, 2007. There they found what was described as ‘a variety of dogs living in makeshift kennels’.

John Elwood, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said the conditions the dogs were living in were ‘filthy, cramped and smelt foul’. He reported that two men arrived, one of whom was Mr Young, shortly afterwards and told the RSPCA the dogs had not been fed since 8am. ‘The defendant claims he did his best, but there was bedding and food (on the site) which he could have given them,’ Mr Elwood said. However, Mr Ellwood said that Mr Young could have told his employer or he could have telephoned the RSPCA or a vet.

‘The harrowing circumstances of the dogs can only be imagined’, he concluded.

Small amounts

Veterinary expert Jacqui Patison told the court she believed the dogs had suffered for a minimum of two months before the visit by the RSPCA.

She said it could have been longer, but as food was found on the farm, she thought they may have been getting small amounts. ‘All 144 dogs had lice and fleas, some were infected worse than others. These dogs were in such a bad condition. Most of the dogs were not used to being handled and were not used to basic commands. The dogs were reacting in a nervous way.’
Ms Patison, who examined all the dogs, said she discovered most of them were living on damp or very little bedding, which was contaminated with faeces and urine. She classified 102 dogs as emaciated, although the defence said the figure should be 13.

She said: ‘Emaciation is not something that happens in 24 hours. It happens over a longer period of time.’

The court heard how there was poor light and lack of clean water in some of the makeshift kennels. Food was also seen being poured onto the floor, allowing it to be contaminated by faeces and urine. The dogs were removed from the farm in the following days, before they were treated and rehomed. A small number of dogs were in such a poor condition they had to be put down.

A video made by the RSPCA showed bones scattered on the farm.

Mr Young said he helped Mr Brown out because he was suffering from a number of problems and he was returning a favour. In an interview with police, he said there were too many dogs to deal with, but that he did his best, working seven days a week. He accepts the animals suffered.
The case continues.

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