Shropshire woman jailed after animals found in appalling conditions on illegal puppy farm

A Shropshire woman has been jailed for running an illegal dog breeding business where animals were kept in appalling conditions.

One of the cages
One of the cages

A police and RSPCA raid on White House Farm, Hollins Lanes, Tilstock, near Whitchurch, found 35 dogs, cavapoos, cockapoos, dachshunds, Cavalier King Charles spaniels and terriers along with other animals.

The investigation was launched following complaints from members of the public who had bought puppies and dogs from the farm which later became ill.

Appearing at Kidderminster Magistrates Court, Alison Bransby, 62, was jailed for 22 weeks, disqualified from keeping all animals for life and ordered to pay costs of £44,000, following a prosecution by the RSPCA.

She had pleaded guilty to 17 animal welfare offences relating to 27 dogs, eight puppies, two cats, a horse, a lamb, a terrapin and an African grey parrot. This included one offence of breeding and selling puppies without a licence.

Teddy the dog found deaf and blind

Her daughter Kayleigh Bransby, 31, who also lived at the farm, was given an 11-week custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, ordered to complete 200 hours unpaid work and was given a 10-year ban on keeping all animals. She was also ordered to pay costs of £20,000 after admitting nine animal welfare offences.

The court heard how mother and daughter were illegally operating an extensive commercial dog breeding operation at the site and advertised the enterprise on different websites.

Dogs and puppies were housed in wooden sheds, pens and kennels, some barely bigger than a large rabbit hutch.

The court heard that Alison Bransby had made £150,000 from illegally breeding and selling puppies.

Dozens of other neglected and poorly animals were discovered at the property in February 2021 including:

  • 15 dogs, some with significant underlying health conditions, living in dark, cluttered and unhygienic conditions in the kitchen with limited access to water bowls and bedding

  • Eight puppies, born to a one-eyed mother dog, found in an outdoor kennel block with no water

  • Four dogs with severe dental disease

  • Two cats with ear disease

  • A lamb whose lower eyelids had rolled in

  • A terrapin with a heavily deformed shell living in an enclosure with no UV or heat source

  • An African grey parrot with extensive feather/fur loss to its chest living in a filthy cage

  • A thoroughbred mare called Ruby with severely overgrown hooves that had not been treated for at least six months and teeth that had not been seen for two years.

The farm at Tilstock

Among the large number of dogs found was an emaciated and elderly King Charles Cavalier called Teddy, who is thought to have been used for breeding. Curled up in a plastic bed in the corner of the dark kitchen, he was found to be blind and deaf, with only one tooth left in his mouth.

Such was the extent of his neglect that he was put to sleep on veterinary advice to prevent further suffering. Ruby the horse and both cats were also put to sleep on veterinary advice.

In mitigation, the court heard that Alison Bransby was suffering from physical and mental health issues during the time of the offences. Her daughter, a radiographer - who was also ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work - had moved into the farm to help look after her mother and the animals in January 2021, but acknowledged that they were not being cared for properly.

One of the cages

District Judge Ian Strongman said that although the cruelty was not deliberate, it had occurred over a prolonged period of time and it was obvious the animals were clearly suffering.

All but three of the animals have since been rehomed, including dachshund Eric, who was adopted by a police officer from West Mercia who assisted in the operation.

RSPCA inspector Ian Briggs, said: "This appalling case shows what can happen when breeders and sellers put profits ahead of the health and welfare of their dogs. Stud dogs used on puppy farms are not spoken about as much but Teddy was the saddest of examples.

“Blind and deaf, he’d been used all his life by the defendants for financial gain, yet in his final months he wasn’t even afforded the kindness of a comfortable resting place and had simply been forgotten about, just left to lie in his own urine.

“We'd always encourage anyone thinking of getting a puppy to adopt rather than buy, and to do lots of research first to ensure they source a dog responsibly and do not end up lining the pockets of irresponsible people who make money out of misery.”

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