A VILE Solihull puppy farmer who bred and sold sick and dying puppies unsuspecting buyers has been jailed for six months after being found guilty of a number of animal welfare offences.
Sean Kerr, 52, of Coventry Road, Bickenhill, appeared at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court for a three-week trial, starting on January 30.
Today (Thursday, February 16) the puppy farmer was found guilty of six counts of causing unnecessary suffering to dogs and three offences of failing to meet the needs of a number of dogs.
As well as a six-month prison sentence, Kerr was disqualified from keeping dogs for life and ordered to pay £30,000 costs.
The RSPCA were alerted to Kerr in autumn 2015 after being contacted by a member of the public who had bought a schnauzer puppy from the farm which had then fallen ill.
An inspector attended the farm and spoke with Kerr, giving some welfare advice about one mother and litter which were present at the time.
However, when a number of similar reports were made to the animal welfare charity’s cruelty line in December, RSPCA inspector Herchy Boal launched an investigation.
“When more complaints started pouring in, about different breeds of dogs, we were immediately suspicious,” inspector Boal explained.
“Genuine breeders tend to focus on breeding one type of dog so it became quite obvious that there was something going on here.”
On, December 22 2015, RSPCA and police officers executed a warrant and removed 37 dogs and puppies, eight of which were found inside the farmhouse including a pregnant shih tzu, which was discovered cowering in a downstairs toilet (pictured) and a pregnant pug.
The body of a dead puppy was recovered from a plastic carrier bag in the footwell of a van parked at the farm.
Twenty-nine dogs and pups were removed from sheds and stables throughout the farm and 27 puppies were later born in RSPCA care.
“The conditions these dogs were being kept in were completely inappropriate and inadequate,” inspector Boal added.
“The dogs were being kept in cold, dark, filthy conditions. They were on wooden pallets and sawdust with no real bedding – it’s not how you’d expect to keep dogs.
“Four dogs were locked in a room in complete darkness – three of them were pregnant. We didn’t even know they were there for the first two or three hours of our search.
“It was disgusting. They were absolutely terrified.
“All of the dogs were unhandled and we could clearly tell from their behaviour that they were petrified. The minute you touched them they froze.”
One of the dogs, Daisy, was found with an untreated, dislocated hip for which she needed urgent surgery.
A pug called Doug had a painful skin condition and some of the puppies were born with deformities from bad breeding conditions.
“These dogs are just property, commodities,” inspector Boal added.
“This is a business. They are shipped from one place to another, bundled together, mixing breeds and litters and ages. It’s the ideal place for disease and infection to breed and spread.”
On a whiteboard in one of the stables, officers found instructions for the daily care of the dogs, including: ‘Keep puppies quiet, do not let them bark. Squirt them or use whip to crack in yard.’
Paperwork and receipts found at the farm tied Kerr to puppy sales and 17 mobile phones were also removed and analysed, uncovering texts from some of the unsuspecting buyers who had contacted the RSPCA after their puppies had, in many cases, died just days or even hours after arriving home.
Prison officer Anita D’Souza paid £350 for the West Highland terrier puppy she bought from the farm in December 2015.
Just hours after arriving home to her new family, in Coventry, the tiny pup – named Riley – was dead.
She said: “When I arrived at the vets with Riley staff told me they thought she had parvovirus and that the kindest thing to do was to put her to sleep so she wouldn’t suffer any more. It was heartbreaking.”
Kerr was sentenced today but lodged an appeal on his conviction and sentence. He pleaded not guilty to a charge under the Fraud Act which will be heard at Birmingham Crown Court next month.
Another woman is due to stand trial for a number of offences relating to the same address.
Most of the dogs rescued from the farm were fostered and all can now be re-homed.