Telford 'puppy farm' conditions included mange and parasites, court told

Dogs at an alleged puppy farm in Telford were found to have stomach problems, parasites, dirty coats and skin conditions, a court heard.

Three people are on trial accused of fraudulently selling puppies from McDonagh Lodge in Arleston Brook.

Betty Chanelle Burton, 34, Jeff James McDonagh, 37, and Luke Gillman, 27, all lived at Arleston Brook and have denied conspiring to commit fraud between 2015 and 2018 by selling puppies to members of the public under the pretence that they were home-bred.

Gillman is being tried in his absence.

A puppy welfare expert with more than 20 years of experience who visited McDonagh Lodge in November 2018 said that there was "no way" it could have been granted a puppy breeding license.

Dr David Martin visited on the same day that police and RSPCA inspectors searched the property and examined the dogs.

'Poor conditions'

He was called as an expert witness on Wednesday and under questioning from RSPCA prosecutor Hazel Stevens he said: "The conditions at the location would not qualify it for a license.

"There were skin issues... very bad mange, some of the dogs had bad eye problems, some had poor body conditions.

"Those puppies had a wide range of stomach problems, they had a range of parasites."

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He also said that given the number of puppies compared to adult dogs on the site and their breeds, not all of the puppies could have been bred from the bitches on the property.

Andrew Baker, representing McDonagh in the trial, also questioned Dr Martin.

He first accepted that the premises should "no doubt" have been licensed but asked him to clarify that there was no legal requirement for the dogs to be vaccinated before they were sold.

Dr Martin accepted that.

Video footage

Earlier the jury was shown body-worn video footage from an RSPCA inspector who visited McDonagh Lodge on the same day as Dr Martin.

It showed a variety of dogs including Dachshunds and King Charles Spaniels, with the inspector heard to be commenting on some of their dirty coats, mangy skin and irritated ears.

The footage also showed items at the property including a log burner, a wicker basket and a bowl, with the inspector pointing out similar items seen in some online adverts for puppies.

The trial continues.

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