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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 July 2007, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Puppy cruelty farmer is sentenced
Peter Hughes
Peter Hughes kept dogs chained up in waterlogged conditions
A farmer who illegally bred dogs in "cramped, cold and dirty" conditions has been given a suspended prison sentence and banned from keeping dogs.

Peter Hughes, 71, was found to have 64 dogs at his sheep farm at Halkyn, Flintshire, but a licence for only 12.

Hughes admitted causing unnecessary suffering, breeding without a licence, and breaching his pet shop licence.

His three-month jail term was suspended for two years, and he was banned from owning a dog for 10 years.

He was also banned from applying for a licence to breed puppies for 10 years, and was ordered to pay 6,000 costs.

The court officials found dogs chained up in waterlogged conditions, many with infections and ulcerated feet.

Prosecuting barrister Chris Moss said council officials and RSPCA inspectors found 64 dogs in "generally filthy and unhygienic conditions" and many with health problems.

Official from Flintshire environmental health visited Hughes' farm in March after receiving tip-offs and seized 26 dogs.

You kept a large number of dogs in poor conditions and treated them cruelly by neglecting to attend to their welfare
District Judge Andrew Shaw

All were neglected and two of the puppies seized later died.

Three people, including a vet, had bought puppies from the farm, said Mr Moss, and were concerned for the animals' welfare.

Of the 64 dogs found at the farm, 48 were puppies. Hughes had a licence allowing him to keep no more than 12 dogs.

There was inadequate water, some dogs were chained up in waterlogged conditions, and there were "numerous dead rats", as well as a sheep carcass, on Hughes' premises, Mr Moss said.

Many of the border collies also had parasitic infections and a number had ulcerated feet as a result of being kept on unsuitable mesh flooring.

Hughes, who represented himself after his defence barrister withdrew from the case, was described in court as a part-time sheep farmer who sold puppies to supplement his income.

He appealed for his own dog Meg to be returned but that was rejected.

District Judge Andrew Shaw said Hughes had not learned from an earlier conviction and he suspected he had not learnt from the latest case either.

"You kept a large number of dogs in poor conditions and treated them cruelly by neglecting to attend to their welfare," the judge told Hughes.

'Atrocious'

Earlier, an arrest warrant was issued after Hughes failed to appear.

But the judge later apologised, saying he would investigate why an official had sent the farmer a letter telling him to turn up at 1400 BST.

There was extra security in place at the court in Mold for sentencing, after claims that Hughes had received threats from animal rights campaigners.

Outside court, Jenny Woolley, a vet who went to Hughes' farm described the conditions the dogs were found in as atrocious and "some of the worst sights that I've actually seen".

Ms Woolley welcomed the farmer's sentence, particularly the 10 year dog ban.

Solicitor Damien Gaskell, for Flintshire Council, said the sentence should be a deterrent to ensure people issued with licences stuck to their conditions.




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