Northumberland woman jailed for keeping 107 dogs, six puppies, two cats and three tortoises in 'chaotic' conditions

A dog breeder has been jailed for a string of animal welfare offences after RSPCA officers found more than 110 animals living in “chaotic” conditions at her home.

Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 1:41 pm

Dogs were discovered in rooms and outbuildings across the property with a number of them kept in training cages, dirty kennels and even crates.

Lynn Stoker, 63, of Byrness Village, near Otterburn, has been locked up for 21 weeks and fined £50,000 by magistrates after she was convicted of 15 offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Her trial earlier heard how Stoker was first visited by the RSPCA in November 2017 after it received reports of a cat with a weepy eye.

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Picture issued by Northumbria Police

After discovering how many animals were living at the property, she was offered free vaccinations, neutering, health checks and treatment as well as assistance rehoming some of the dogs to bring the numbers down to a more manageable level.

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 five months later the situation had not improved and staff from the animal welfare charity joined police to execute a warrant at the property on May 8 last year.

One-hundred-and-seven dogs - many suffering from ear infections and dental issues - six puppies, three tortoises and two cats were discovered living in unsuitable conditions and were seized by police and placed in RSPCA care.

Many of the animals were under weight.

The majority did not have any access to water or food.

Inspector Heidi Cleaver, who led the investigation, described the property as “chaotic” and how every animal was affected by one or more welfare issues.

She added: “When we walked in to one of the back rooms of the house we were just surrounded by dogs - they swarmed around our feet. Others were kept in crates and cages - some stacked on top of others - while others were kept outside in dark, damp and cold kennels with no bedding.

“There were a number of different breeds at the property - including chihuahuas, shih-tzu crosses, cockerpoos, King Charles spaniels, terrier crosses, poodles and bulldogs. There were so many of them that only a handful of them had names.

An RSPCA picture of the conditions many of the pets were living in.

“There were many health and medical conditions that were found in this very large group of dogs, mainly dental disease and ear infections.”

Stoker was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £115 and was disqualified from keeping animals for life - which cannot be appealed for 15 years - at Bedlington Magistrates’ Court.

The dark conditions many of the pets were kept in.
Dogs were found crammed in cages.