A man has been handed a suspended sentence and banned from keeping animals for his involvement in running a puppy farm in Kent.
Glen Hayes of Beatty Avenue, Gillingham, appeared at Bexley Magistrates’ Court on Monday 26 November for a sentencing hearing having been convicted early this month of 10 animal welfare offences.
Hayes was disqualified from keeping animals indefinitely and handed a 20-week prison term, suspended for 18 months. He was ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid work, fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £115 victim surcharge.
Sentencing Hayes, the judge reminded the court of his concluding marks at trial, that Hayes was working behind-the-scenes ‘back of house’ at the puppy farm.
The RSPCA’s Special Operations Unit (SOU) joined Metropolitan Police to execute a warrant at a property at Bexleyheath in January after calls from concerned members of the public who had bought puppies from the address in the run-up to Christmas.
When officers arrived at the address, they found 38 dogs and 18 cats being kept in filthy conditions in makeshift pens in the garden and in small runs and cages in the house.
RSPCA Inspector Carroll Lamport, who investigated, said: “We’d been contacted by numerous people buying puppies who had grown suspicious of the operation that was being run from the house in Bexleyheath. People were concerned that they were never allowed beyond the living room when they visited the house to see the puppies and many who had purchased dogs, reported that their pets had quickly fallen ill. Sadly, in some cases, people’s beloved new pet puppies had been so poorly that they’d died.”
In the month leading up to Christmas, the RSPCA received six complaints relating to Basset hounds, Dachshunds and a Boxer. One of the pups – a Dachshund – died on Christmas Day, having contracted parvovirus.
When officers raided the property, they discovered pedigree cats and fashionable dog breeds – such as Newfoundlands, Dachshunds, French Bulldogs and Shih Tzus – being kept in completely unacceptable conditions. All of these animals were removed and taken into RSPCA care.
One Newfoundland was found with seriously deformed legs and couldn’t walk while many of the dogs were covered in mud, faeces and their coats were matted with dirt. An independent vet who joined officers on the raid to check all of the animas said it was some of the worst conditions he’d ever seen.
Inspector Lamport, added: “Everything was covered in filth and mud. All of the dogs were caked in the stuff – it was disgusting. The dogs had no way of getting out of the damp, dirty conditions. And the cats were being kept in cramped pens with two adults and a kitten found shut in a tiny rabbit hutch-type enclosure.
“The house and garden were total mayhem but the living room, the only space prospective buyers were allowed access too – couldn’t have been more different. A pristine and impeccably clean space. Thankfully, we were able to save these lovely dogs and cats and they will all go on to lead much happier and healthier lives.”
All of the animals have since been rehomed or are in foster care awaiting new homes. RSPCA dog welfare expert, Lisa Hens, said: “Unfortunately we know that lots of unscrupulous dealers will up their operations in the run-up to Christmas and try to cash in on families hoping to bring a dog into their lives.
“It’s devastating that, as in this case, many families will spend Christmas mourning the death of their new puppy when they should be celebrating a new addition to their home. If you’re thinking of getting a dog for Christmas, please do lots of research and make sure you have the time and finances to commit to a pet for the rest of his or her life.”