Couple kept 20 neglected dogs in their £1.3m home where two puppies found dead

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The animals were found in dark, filthy, pest-infested and overheated conditions at the home of Margaret and William Davies in the village of Blakeney in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. Faeces had piled up in the pens at the couple’s puppy farm with some dogs having little daylight and only limited drinking water, Cheltenham Magistrates Court heard.

Barrister, Greg Gordon, representing Forest of Dean Council, explained that 12 dogs and two litters of puppies were removed by inspectors from the local authority on July 1 and 8 last year while others had since been signed over to its care.

GloucestershireLive reports that the council lodged an application to the court to force the couple to pay for care costs.

Mr Gordon explained there were two claims against the Davies, including expenses in keeping the dogs kennelled and healthy, which amounted to £17,820.

Ten dogs and 10 puppies were kept by the local authority from the beginning of July 2021 until the end of September. Two had already been fostered out.
All the dogs are now in foster homes, meaning there are no ongoing costs, Mr Gordon told the court.

He said legal costs for the prosecution came to £1,942.50 and the issue for the court was the Davies’ ability to pay.

The court heard there are three sets of assets, including the farm valued at £1.3m, but legal enforcement against that property had all but wiped out any equity in it.

Mr Gordon added that the couple also have a retirement bungalow which has some equity in it with some farm equipment on site valued at about £60,000.

He said: “This, we believe, is enough to pay the costs being requested today.


However, in the circumstances we suggest that the Davies have a year in which to pay these costs.”

The barrister explained that the dogs had been seized because they were suffering from signs of neglect and had been certified as such by inspectors and a vet.

Pensioners, Margaret and William Davies, were not present in court, but were represented by Aled Owen.

He told the magistrates: “This elderly couple are in a difficult situation and are embarrassed that they have got themselves into such a poor financial position. They were rather naive in their outlook.”

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Mr Owen added that there are proceedings ongoing at county court in respect of a bridging loan taken out 10 years ago and this “small sum” had escalated over the years.

He said: “There is concern among the farming community about the growing number of asset rich, but cash poor farmers, still operating today who have been targeted by specialist companies.

“If the farm is retained by the Davies they have control in how much they get for it when it is sold. A ‘fire sale’ would also raise valuable funds.

“But a court may instruct others to sell the farm on the Davies’ behalf, which in all likelihood place the couple in negative equity.”

He said the retirement bungalow has some equity in it as well as the farming machinery and the couple are currently living off the state pension.

The court heard that on top of a court hearing in March, there is more litigation in the pipeline.

Mr Owen said: “There is no income from the farm as it ceased being used as an agricultural farm some years ago due to Mr Davies’ illness.”

Presiding Justice, Dr Rennie Thompson, said: “We have given the matter due consideration and we find that the prosecution costs are proportional and reasonable.

“There has been a considerable effort to mitigate the costs of looking after these animals by fostering and other methods to keep the costs down.

“We appreciate the financial situation this couple find themselves in, but we understand that there is equity in other assets other than the main farm itself.

“We therefore award the full costs, including legal fees, of £19,762.50 to Forest of Dean District Council and that is to be paid in full in 12 months.”

With additional reporting by John Hawkins.

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