A couple from Belton have been jailed after admitting causing unnecessary suffering and failing to meet the needs of a number of dogs and goats they were keeping at their home.
Simon Hallgarth, 47, and Paul Walker, 42, both of Holland Close Villas, Woodhouse, Belton appeared before Doncaster Magistrates’ Court on Monday April 29 where they pleaded guilty to 11 offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
The RSPCA was alerted to the animals’ plight after receiving a call to its cruelty line about three abandoned goats. The goats were found living in a poor environment and did not have access to water. As discussions were taking place between the inspector and Walker a number of dogs could be heard barking from inside a garage nearby, and the inspector asked if she could see them.
RSPCA Inspector Tamsin Drysdale, who investigated, said: “As the garage door was opened the smell of faeces and urine was overwhelming. There were four pens with various breeds of dogs living in them. Their food and water bowls were filthy and empty and the dogs were pungent, their coats in various stages of matting.
“The three dogs in the last pen were in such a poor condition I wasn’t sure what breed they were. Two of the dogs were moving, albeit very slowly, but the third dog, a Bichon Frise called Peggy appeared to be dead. I went into the pen and gently shook her and I was shocked when she moved slightly.
“At the vets she was found to be very thin, in respiratory distress and hypothermic. She was initially unable to be examined because of the extent of the matting, which had to be cut away. She had a fractured wrist and wounds on her back legs so badly infected that they were down to the bone. The damage was irreparable and she was put to sleep on humane grounds.
“A large number of dogs were also living in the house, and though these were in better condition than those in the garage, many of these were also suffering.”
Sadly three other dogs were also put to sleep on veterinary advice, including a 17-year-old Shih Tzu called Daisy who was in severe respiratory distress. She had two blind shrunken eyes that were discharging green pus and her ears were also discharging pus. Another dog, Cookie, had to have a leg amputated.
Seven of the 52 dogs removed from the property were suffering with severe dental disease, four of them with ear infections, two of them with eye infections and one with overgrown nails that had penetrated the pads of the dog’s feet. Thirteen of the dogs and the three goats did not have their needs met due to the environment they were living in and/or a lack of fresh clean drinking water.
In mitigation, the court heard that Hallgarth had sought comfort in buying dogs as a way of coping after the death of his mother in 2013, with whom he had bought the property, lived and owned dogs previously. He accepted that he had caused very high suffering and was remorseful.
In respect of Walker, the court heard that the offences had been borne out of concern and care for his husband.
The court heard that both defendants were overwhelmed financially and by the level of care the animals needed. They were of previous good character and had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
The men were also given post-sentence supervision orders of 12 months, less the time served in prison.
RSPCA Inspector Drysdale said: “Many of these dogs suffered over a long period, particularly in the case of Peggy.
“I am very happy that so many of these dogs have been able to recover and are now enjoying life in the kind of homes they deserve.”