Dog breeder found guilty over neglecting 110 animals loses appeal over conviction

Some of the conditions and kennels the dogs were kept in at Lynn Stoker's property.Some of the conditions and kennels the dogs were kept in at Lynn Stoker's property.
Some of the conditions and kennels the dogs were kept in at Lynn Stoker's property.
A dog breeder originally jailed for 21 weeks after being found guilty of neglecting more than 110 animals has lost her appeal.

Lynn Stoker was jailed for 21 weeks in September 2019, and ordered to pay £50,000 costs, after being found guilty of 15 animal welfare offences at Bedlington Magistrates Court.

The 64-year-old, of Byrness Village near Otterburn, lodged an appeal against her conviction and sentence at Newcastle Crown Court in April and the original decision was upheld.

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The court returned on Friday, June 11, to sentence her and she was ordered to pay a further £38,000 in costs.

The hearing was told how the RSPCA was called to visit Stoker’s property after reports of a cat with a weepy eye.

But inspectors found more than 110 animals – including dogs, puppies, cats and tortoises – neglected at the site.

The court heard how Stoker was first visited by the RSPCA in November 2017 and was offered help, including free vaccinations, neutering, health checks and treatment as well as assistance rehoming some of the dogs.

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Eleven dogs were signed over to the charity’s care for rehoming and officers arranged for vouchers for neutering and help for medical care for Stoker’s animals too.

But after five months of offers of help from the RSPCA the situation had not improved and officers executed a warrant in May 2018.

There were 107 dogs, many suffering from severe ear infections, numerous dislocated hips and dental disease so serious they had pathological fractures of the jaw.

Six puppies, three tortoises and two cats were also found living in unsuitable conditions.

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A number of the dogs were kept in training cages and dirty, dark kennels in rooms and out-buildings across the property.

Those in crates were crammed in together and the animals roaming free moved in a pack with dog faeces and urine around the property and in the cages.

The court heard how the majority of dogs did not have any access to water or food and many were living in dark and dirty conditions.

Others were housed in seven crates in a conservatory where the temperature was 28C – and one crate measuring 70cm by 103cm contained 11 dogs.

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Inspector Heidi Cleaver, who led the investigation, described the property as ‘chaotic’ with dogs swarming around.

She said in her statement: “The conditions in the house were noisy, crowded and chaotic. The dogs live as a pack. There was no space for them to escape each other.

“There were no measures in place to control the temperature within the property.

“Many dogs in the conservatory were confined in training cages in direct sunlight on the day we attended.

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"Outbuilding B was cold and smelly, there were no windows allowing light into the area also meaning ventilation was stilited.

“The dogs in Outbuilding B were kennelled and therefore unable to control their environment in terms of moving away from or towards a heat source or moving somewhere more comfortable.”

The dogs were breeding out of control and there was no preventative measures carried out such as separating the dogs according to sex or neutering.

As well as the original £50,000 fine and 21 weeks prison sentence she received originally, Stoker was disqualified from keeping animals for life – which cannot be appealed for 15 years.