A MUM and her two sons have been banned from keeping animals for 15 years after more than 20 dogs left in their care were kept in squalid conditions.
Tracey Bryson, 44, appeared before magistrates jointly charged with her sons, Robert Maddison, 28, and John Bryson, 25, with 12 counts of animal welfare allegations between January 23 and February 6 this year.
The court heard the three were responsible for the care of up to 24 dogs at Swan Castle Farm, in Shotton Colliery, which was inspected by RSPCA officials following a police investigation into puppy farming.
Inspectors from the animal charity discovered dogs kept in an outhouse, in tightly packed kennels which were littered with faeces and smelling strongly of ammonia.
The RSPCA team which carried out the investigation described the general condition in which the animals were being kept as “disgraceful”.
The dogs were removed from the farm and put into kennels by the RSPCA while the investigation was carried out, costing the charity in excess of £47,000 in kennel fees.
John Ellwood, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said: “This case is aggravated by the level of suffering and the multiple number of animals involved.
“Many were very thin, many had injuries and what is particularly concering is where they have gum or mouth disease, but more than that had 10 or more teeth removed by the vet as a result of this.”
Bill Davison, defending, told Hartlepool magistrates: “The term puppy farm has been bandied about in this case, but the defendants were not running a puppy farm and have not been charged as such.
“There was a puppy farm being run by someone who upped sticks and left.
“These three were left to care for the dogs, but the care was not adequate, hence the case today.
“This is not deliberate sadism or deliberate ill treatment.
“The injuries were not of the most serious kind, there was no fights, no dogs maimed, the dogs were scarred or burned, there were no maggots in untreated wounds.
“They did not go to that level.”
Bryson, of Bruce Glazier Terrace, Shotton Colliery, Robert Maddison, of AJ Cook Street, Shotton Colliery, and John Bryson, of Ellison Road, Peterlee, all pleaded guilty to the 12 charges at a previous hearing in September.
Having heard the evidence and watched a DVD showing the conditions at the farm, chairman of the bench Ann Tarbutt said; “These dogs were kept in appalling conditions.
“The RSPCA had a considerable amount of work to do to rectify the problems, not to mention the considerable costs.”
All three were given a 12 month community order with 12 months supervision, as well as being ordered to carry out 160 hours of unpaid work.
As well as the 15 year ban from keeping animals, the three were ordered to pay £1,000 each towards the cost of the case and a £60 victim surcharge.