Man convicted of eight offences after investigation into Kent puppy farm

RSPCA officers found dogs at a puppy farm in Kent with untreated health problems living in unsuitable conditions.

A puppy farmer has been convicted of eight animal welfare offences after RSPCA officers found ‘depressed’ dogs living in dark, dirty condition in Kent.

The animal welfare charity’s Special Operations Unit launched an investigation after four members of the public made complaints having bought puppies from a property between December 2017 and February 2018. They became suspicious after their puppies became ill and all the pups died.

On Monday (12 August), Mark Burgess of Old Ashford Road in Brenzett was convicted of eight offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. He appeared at Canterbury Magistrates’ Court to hear the judge’s verdict after the case was adjourned following his trial in June.

RSPCA officers joined police to execute a warrant at the Benzett property on 21 February. Twenty dogs were found living in unsuitable conditions and were seized by police and placed into RSPCA care – 12 adults and eight puppies.

RSPCA Inspector Carroll Lamport, lead investigator, said: “We found a mix of different breeds at the site including beagles, Dalmatians, Spaniels and Dachshund crosses. Some were pregnant, others had litters of tiny puppies while some had clear signs that they’d been used for breeding previously.”

Many of the dogs were being kept in wholly inadequate and unsuitable conditions, some in dark, cold kennels and others in filthy makeshift runs.

An elderly German Shepherd was found living outside, tethered to an old wooden kennel. A vet said she was showing signs of skin disease – her shaggy coat was patchy and bald in places – and had muscles wastage and weak back legs.

Inspector Lamport added: “Some of the dogs were extremely frightened and shut down. Some were living in almost complete darkness and others were huddled at the back of their runs. One beagle was sitting uncomfortably in a filthy, wet kennel. She looked so depressed.

“When we searched a freezer on site, we made a horrifying discovery; a small, four-week old puppy. The body was frozen rigid and dumped in the bottom of a bloody-soaked freezer.”

Two cats and three kittens suffering from cat flu were also seized and later signed over. The German Shepherd was sadly put to sleep, but the remaining dogs were all signed over into RSPCA care and rehomed.

Mark Burgess is due back for sentencing on 23 September.