A MAN whose dogs were found suffering from injuries after the RSPCA investigated potential badger baiting offences has been banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

Reece Robertson, 26, of Cook Road in Millom, pleaded guilty to four offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and appeared for sentencing at South Cumbria Magistrates’ Court.

As well as the disqualification, magistrates imposed a 12-month community order on the defendant, which requires him to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

The Mail: The conditions the dogs were found inThe conditions the dogs were found in (Image: RSPCA)

The court was told that RSPCA officers and officers from Cumbria Police found eight dogs, several of whom were suffering from untreated wounds, after two search warrants were executed at Robertson’s home and a nearby allotment at Lincoln Street in Millom as part of an investigation codenamed Operation Spike on October 5 last year.

The warrants were issued under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

RSPCA Chief Inspector Ian Muttit, of the charity’s SOU (Special Operations Unit), said in a statement presented to the court that three adult dogs and a puppy were being kept in very poor conditions at kennels in Robertson’s back garden.

The Mail: One of the dogs seizedOne of the dogs seized (Image: RSPCA)

Chief Inspector Muttit said: “Each kennel had a large build-up of faeces in it. They were small and the run areas had large amounts of faeces built up inside, while the sleeping areas for each were extremely basic and looked inadequate in terms of shelter or bedding.” 

Three dogs, a bull lurcher called Bam, a female bull lurcher called Bella, a Patterdale terrier called Punch and a lurcher puppy, were found at the defendant’s property.

At the allotment, RSPCA officers found five more dogs in five separate kennels, including a female bull lurcher named Jess who had lost part of her nose and had scars all over her face. 

The Mail: Robertson's backyardRobertson's backyard (Image: RSPCA)

There was also a Patterdale terrier called Tilly, a female lurcher called Thorn and two male lurchers named Mash and Bracken, both of whom were also suffering with facial cuts and scars.

An RSPCA SOU Inspector stated: “The conditions in these kennels were extremely poor. Tilly and Mash had no water in their kennels and all the dogs had very dirty kennels with lots of fresh and mouldy faeces inside them.”

Robertson indicated he had not attended the allotment for two to three days and there were no arrangements made for anyone to attend to the dogs.

The Mail: The conditions were described as 'pretty bleak'The conditions were described as 'pretty bleak' (Image: RSPCA)

All the eight adult dogs were seized and taken into the care of the RSPCA. A vet who examined all the dogs found several were underweight while others had untreated facial wounds.

Tilly was very thin and scored one out of five on a body condition score. Thorn had a broken tooth and a wound on her front leg which extended into her muscle. Mash’s left eye and chin were inflamed and swollen, while Bracken had a wound to his mouth and to one of his foot pads. Jess was suffering from fur loss and her nasal septum was missing. 

Bella had an old scar on her head and her teats were enlarged. There were scabs on Bam’s nose and he had a recent cut to his inner ear. Punch, the second Patterdale, was suffering with crusty skin and there was scabbing on his chin, while he also had a fresh wound to his ear.

The Mail: One of the dogsOne of the dogs (Image: RSPCA)

Robertson said that none of the dogs were under a vet and he claimed Jess had got her nose stuck in the wire fence of her kennel and part of her nose “ripped off” after he tried to pull her clear.

The vet concluded that Robertson failed to provide a suitable living environment for Tilly, Thorn, Mash, Braken and Jess, while he also failed to provide a suitable diet for Tilly. The defendant also failed to provide for the needs of Bella, Punch and Bam, stated the vet.

In mitigation, the court heard that Robertson had learning difficulties and was “regarded as a soft touch for animals in the area” with people giving him dogs they couldn’t care for. But it proved too much for him both financially and intellectually and he had tried to administer “self-treatment”.

The defendant was also ordered to pay costs of £500. 

The Mail: Each kennel had a large build-up of faeces in itEach kennel had a large build-up of faeces in it (Image: RSPCA)

After being treated for their injuries and ailments, all the dogs have made a good recovery in RSPCA care and will now be rehomed. The defendant later agreed to rehome the lurcher puppy.

Speaking after the case, Chief Inspector Muttit said: “We discovered these dogs in a pretty bleak environment. Those at the allotment were being kept in really poor conditions and the defendant had left them unattended for three days in their own mess.

“A number of them were suffering with injuries, including one who had lost part of her nose. It was important that we investigated the welfare of these dogs and removed them to a place of safety.”