Dog owner banned from keeping animals after puppies found infested with worms in Cumbria

RSPCA inspectors found that some of the dogs and puppies, who were confined in cages, were suffering from parasite infections. Credit: RSPCA

A man has been banned from keeping animals for two years after dogs were found crammed into a livestock trailer at Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria.

John Lowther, 45, from Kidacre Park, Leeds and Marina Lowther, 43, from Farsley, Leeds both pleaded guilty to four charges of causing unnecessary suffering to animals under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

They appeared for sentencing at Bradford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 10 May.

The pair was prosecuted for neglecting 10 of the 14 animals that the RSPCA took in.

A German Shepherd puppy was in such poor health that sadly a vet decided she needed to be put to sleep to end her suffering.

The RSPCA initially took 14 dogs from the trailer into its care Credit: RSPCA

The RSPCA followed up a report that a number of dogs were in a trailer parked near to Winter’s Farm in Appleby during the travellers fair on 13 August last year.

RSPCA inspectors Keith Hogben and Deborah Beats discovered the dogs were being kept in unhygienic conditions in five cages and some were unwell. They were advised by vets, who were in attendance, to have them seized which took place under police supervision.

In RSPCA Inspector Hogben’s witness statement, it said he found an underweight German Shepherd dog who was struggling to stand upright because the cage she was in with her five puppies was too small.

Inside a plastic dog kennel there was a border terrier and three puppies, all of whom were found to be suffering from lice infection. 

Inspector Hogben said: “There were many dogs contained in cages. There was very little natural light in the trailer and a strong smell of ammonia and faeces.

“As the dog's were being removed from the cattle trailer... the situation became heated as John Lowther and a young boy tried to stop the dogs being removed and loaded into the transport that had arrived.”

RSPCA found five German Shepherd puppies who were infested with worms  Credit: RSPCA

Examinations were carried out on all the dogs at an Appleby veterinary practice, but sadly despite treatment the condition of one of the German Shepherd puppies deteriorated.

Vet Helen Gould stated in her report: “It is my opinion that this pup died due to a high worm burden with subsequent intestinal damage and secondary bacterial infection.”

She said that other pups, who were around six weeks old, all had “a massive worm burden and lice”, but responded to treatment with antibiotics and parasiticides. Their mother also needed treatment for lice and worms.

“These pups were suffering and had been for all of their lives. This could have been avoided by worming them from two weeks of age and treating them for lice,” said the vet.

RSPCA Chief Inspector Rebecca Lowe, who attended at the vets’ practice, said in her statement: “One of the puppies whilst in the crate was trying to toilet and had nothing but worms coming out of its rear end. There was no faeces, just worms.”

RSPCA vet Roxane Kirton concluded the dogs were housed in accommodation that failed to meet their needs, even if it was only for the duration of the fair.

In mitigation, the court was told that John Lowther had suffered from poor mental health exacerbated by the death of a close relative.

Magistrates said there was evidence of “extreme suffering and prolonged neglect” and handed Lowther a 12-week prison sentence suspended for two years.

They also told him to observe an eight-week curfew and pay costs and a victim surcharge totalling £213. 

As the dogs did not live with Marina Lowther, the magistrates accepted she only had care of them for a short period of time.

She was given a 12-month community sentence, including abiding by a six-week curfew, and she will have to pay combined costs and a victim surcharge of £160.

The dogs involved in the case have since been re-homed.

RSPCA Inspector Will Lamping said after the court hearing: “It was an upsetting scene that we were confronted with as the puppies were in a really sorry state riddled with worms and parasites.

"At the vets we observed many worms physically crawling from the behind of the pups while they were examined.

“One of them had to be put to sleep, but these infections could have been prevented easily, with proper worming treatments and routine preventive care.

"Thankfully all of the other pups pulled through and they and their mothers have since been re-homed. 

“Unfortunately, we have seen a huge increase in people breeding puppies to sell and unscrupulous dealers breed them in poor condition with no thought for their health and wellbeing.

“While we’d always encourage people to rescue a dog we know that lots of families want to take on a puppy and to help them ensure they find a responsible breeder who prioritises the health and welfare of the dogs we believe it is incredibly important that they use a Puppy Contract from the RSPCA website.”