Dog ‘was my world’ says alleged Telford puppy farmer

A man who was living in the grounds of an alleged puppy farm when it was raided by the RSPCA said only one of the dogs seized was his, describing her as “my world”.

Shrewsbury Justice Centre
Shrewsbury Justice Centre

Luke Gillman told RSPCA officers that he was staying in a caravan at McDonagh Lodge in Arleston Brook, Telford, which was raided in November 2018, Shrewsbury Crown Court heard.

The inspection which also involved police saw 55 dogs and puppies seized from the site.

The court previously heard several of the dogs had no access to clean water and were suffering problems including hair loss, low weight and diarrhoea.

On Friday, Gillman's interview with RSPCA officers was read to the court by prosecutor Hazel Stevens.

The case so far:

He told officers that his co-accused, Jeff James McDonagh, was a family friend and he helped him with general maintenance.

He said he helped out by giving the dogs food and water and that the majority were owned by McDonagh and his children.

He told officers: "I'm not saying they are my responsibility. I'm just doing it off my own back."

Gillman said he had fed all the dogs and given them water about an hour before the raid, and he had no concerns over their welfare.

He also told officers he noticed some of the dogs had skin problems but that they were treated with cream.

When asked whether he would sign any dogs over to the RSPCA, he said only the French bulldog found at the address was his.

Gillman said: "She's mine and she needs to come back to me.

"She's my world that dog."

He denied being part of any sales but had been present when some dogs were sold.

Betty Chanelle Burton, 34, McDonagh, 37, and Gillman, 27, all lived at Arleston Brook and are on trial accused of selling puppies to members of the public under the pretence that they were home-bred.

All three defendants deny conspiring to commit fraud between 2015 and 2018.

Gillman is being tried in his absence.

The trial jury was told earlier that 42 puppies said to be connected to the defendants had been sold in the Telford area, with 15 of them dying and all the rest needing veterinary care.

The animals were said to be linked to a larger Manchester-based puppy farming operation.

The jury was previously told that the RSPCA was contacted by people worried about the health of puppies they had bought or that had been offered for sale through adverts.

The trial continues.

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