A TREDEGAR woman has been banned from keeping dogs for five years after she was found guilty of keeping 90 of the animals in a filthy environment contaminated by faeces and urine.
Julie Elizabeth Newcombe of Trefil Road, Tredegar, pleaded not guilty to one offence under the Animal Welfare Act and was
found guilty at trial at Newport Magistrates’ Court on Friday 15 September. The offence she was found guilty of was that she did not take such steps to ensure that the needs of 90 dogs were met to the extent required by good practice by one or a combination of the following – by accommodating the animals in a filthy environment contaminated by faeces and urine, by failing to provide an adequate quantity of fresh clean drinking water, by failing to accommodate the animals in accommodation
of sufficient size, by failing to enable the dogs to express normal behaviour patterns, by failing to provide required veterinary treatment, by failing to provide adequate nutrition for the animals’ needs and by failing to provide adequate and clean bedding.
The dogs involved were various breeds including Dachshunds, Labradors and French Bulldogs, Poodles and Bichon Frise.
On (Thursday 27 October) as well as a five year ban, Newcombe was also given a 12 month probation order when she was sentenced at Newport Magistrates’ Court.
In mitigation the court heard that Newcombe’s personal circumstances had led to the neglect of the animals, although in finding her guilty, the judge commented that he struggled to find that she was compelled to fail to look after the dogs’ needs and had to consider if a reasonable person in the same situation would have done the same. The court heard in a written statement from RSPCA inspector Darren Oakley that on 1 September 2020 he was requested by Gwent Police to attend a property on Trefil Road. Police had found a vast number of dogs there and had already called out a vet who had given treatment where needed. The vet on the day estimated 60 adult dogs and approximately eight litters were inside the property.
In his statement Inspector Oakley said: “The dogs had no food or water, the only few that did have water were the ones with outside access due to the rain. “When food and water was placed down, for the loose dogs, they ate/drank ravenously. The conditions inside the house were horrendous; the floors were covered in faeces with dogs in cages living in their own
“Every room contained more dogs and pups, the whole house had become one large disgusting kennel. The smell and sights were clearly having an affect on the police who were in attendance. “The outbuildings were worse than the house. On entry the stench coming from them was overpowering. It was hard to see into any of the outbuildings due to no lighting. The noises from inside them were horrific.”
Police secured the property and RSPCA officers attended the following day again as part of a police warrant. On this day (2 September) 95 dogs were seized by police – along with a dead dog which was shown to RSPCA officers by police. That evening the first of the dogs were transported to vets/kennels. This operation continued the following day. Sadly one of the dogs – a
Dachshund – died at the vets that day.
In a written statement from RSPCA inspector David Milborrow, he said he assisted in handling and loading of the remaining dogs into RSPCA vehicles for transport to their boarding facilities. He said: “When it came to the removal of the dogs from the outbuilding on the top tier of the garden I spent 90 minutes inside the building passing each dog in turn out of the missing window to an officer waiting outside.
“After that length of time in the building my overalls were smothered in dog faeces and despite sticking my head out of the window whenever possible I began to feel nauseous and the onset of a headache.” In a written witness statement from RSPCA inspector Simon Evans, who had also been in attendance, he described what he saw in two rooms in particular that contained a large number of dogs who were trying to get their attention through the bars of child-proof gates. He said: “The conditions within these two rooms were by far the worst in the entire house and were, perhaps, amongst the worst I had encountered in my 20 year career within the RSPCA.
“The room to my left was in darkness with apparently no electric lights working. Inside was a chocolate labrador bitch and five puppies. The floor was covered in a thick layer of faeces; there was a plastic basket for the dogs to sleep in but this too was completely covered in faeces. The puppies’ coats were crusty with dried faeces and their underbellies were soaked in urine.” In the second room behind him he said it appeared to be a utility room but unlike the last, there was lighting available.
“The room was alive with dogs. Loose in the room, which was full of faeces, flies and rubbish were three adult French Bulldogs. There was an empty cage in the room, open access and which was soaked in urine and faeces with no bedding provided whatsoever.
“At the back of the room were four more of the pod kennels stacked two on top of two. In the top left hand kennel were two dachshund puppies, one black and tan, one tan. “In the kennel next to it, were two white, bichon frise type dogs with
coats stained black due to the faeces the dogs were being forced to live amongst. In the lower kennels were a single blue coloured French Bulldog and next to it, a black French Bulldog. “I found the conditions within these two utility rooms to be
completely overpowering. I was soaked with sweat and, due to the high levels of ammonia in the air, my throat began to get sore.”
Inspector Evans in his statement states that on 6 September he was contacted by one of the vets who had been looking after some of the dogs, to say that a puppy had developed symptoms of parvo virus and had deteriorated to the extent that it needed to be put to sleep. Three other puppies were also suspected of coming down with the disease. Inspector Evans informed Ms Newcombe and, having spoken with the vet dealing, she authorised the euthanasia of the sickly puppy. Sadly over the next few days a number of other puppies became sick and either died or were put to sleep to prevent suffering. Two litters were also born, one with five puppies and a labrador had a litter of eight puppies, one of which sadly died. Shortly after the dogs came into RSPCA care numerous litters of puppies were born leading to the animal welfare charity having a total of 137
dogs which included all the pups born in their care.
RSPCA chief inspector Elaine Spence said: “We’d like to thank Gwent Police and the officers who were in attendance who carried out their duties under distressing circumstances and conducted themselves in an exceptionally professional manner. “It took a large number of RSPCA officers many hours over two days to remove 95 dogs in difficult conditions. For the officers involved – many of whom were longstanding and experienced officers – who worked on this case it will sadly leave an imprint on them for a very long time. “I would like to thank all of my colleagues who attended and worked on this case for their professionalism. “Thankfully we are very pleased to say that these dogs are now living happily in forever homes.”