Hemel trio banned from owning animals for life after dogs found kept in small crates and in emaciated condition

They pleaded guilty to allowing dogs to suffer unnecessarily

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 10:24 am

Three people from Hemel Hempstead have been banned from keeping dogs for life after pleading guilty to four counts of allowing an animal to suffer unnecessarily.

Dacorum Borough Council successfully brought a prosecution against Stephen Flitton, Suzi Towers and Leanne Richardson - who also pleaded guilty to four counts of failing to meet the needs of an animal, relating to four dogs that were removed from their home in December 2020.

Following an earlier court appearance on July 23, where Mr Flitton, Ms Towers and Miss Richardson pleaded guilty to eight offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The dogs have made a full recovery (C) Dacorum Borough Council

They appeared at Luton Magistrates Court on Friday, September 17, for sentencing.

Mr Flitton was handed a 12 month community order, 100 hours of unpaid work, £300 costs and a £95 victim surcharge.

Mrs Towers was given a 12 month community order, 30 RAR (rehabilitation activity requirement) days, £120 fine, £300 costs and a £95 victim surcharge.

Miss Richardson was handed a 12 month community order, 30 RAR (rehabilitation activity requirement) days, £120 fine, £300 costs and a £95 victim surcharge.

The dogs have made a full recovery (C) Dacorum Borough Council

All three were disqualified from keeping and owning all animals for life.

Dacorum Borough Council’s Animal Welfare Officers first started attending the property in July 2020.

The property was found to be in a filthy and hoarded condition, several of the dogs were found in small crates and were left to urinate inside the crates.

During one visit, an officer from Dacorum Borough Council observed two dogs urinating through the crates and onto the carpet.

The dogs have made a full recovery (C) Dacorum Borough Council

Despite attempts to engage with Flitton, Towers and Richardson, an Animal Welfare Act 2006 warrant was executed by Dacorum Borough Council on December 21, 2020.

Four dogs were taken into possession and removed from the property to safe-guard their welfare.

Following removal from the family, the dogs were found to be in an emaciated and poor condition, unfortunately one of the dogs sadly passed away.

A second dog was signed over to Dacorum Borough Council, and has now made a full recovery and has since been rehomed.

Following the recent sentencing and disqualification order the remaining two dogs are currently under the care of Dacorum Borough Council and will now be rehomed.

Cllr Julie Banks, Portfolio Holder for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “This case sends out a clear message about how seriously Dacorum Borough Council and the courts take the issue of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

"I am proud of our Animal Welfare team for pursuing this case and achieving these convictions. We need to stamp out this illegal and unacceptable behaviour."

To report possible cruel behaviour towards any animal call 01442 228455 or email [email protected].

To report a stray, lost or missing dog call the council's Dog Warden on 01442 228455 during office hours or visit www.dacorum.gov.uk/dogwarden.

The investigating officer, Dacorum Borough Council’s Animal Welfare Officer Rachel Smith, said: “This was a lengthy investigation, spanning over 5 months, during which time we have made every effort to engage with the family.

"All animals deserve to be cared for appropriately and it is never acceptable to neglect an animal or allow an animal to suffer, regardless of your personal circumstances.

“I am pleased with the courts’ decision to disqualify all three owners from owning any animals as this reflects the suffering that was caused to these dogs, which could have easily been avoided.

"Hopefully now, the remaining two dogs can continue with their rehabilitation and go on to lead a full and happy life.”