A PUPPY dealer who kept dogs in pig pens and allowed them to die has been sentenced for causing unnecessary suffering to animals.

Two dogs and 21 puppies were found neglected in an old pig farm by RSPCA officers who were able to rescue the animals, who were “incredibly poorly” and kept in “disgusting conditions”.

The Northern Echo:

James Featon has been fined £130 for causing unnecessary suffering to animals. Picture: RSPCA

The animals were removed from the pig pens and taken into immediate veterinary care after being found on October 7 last year. Sadly, only 18 of the dogs survived.

James Featon, 50, initially denied three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to dogs. However, on the first day of his trial at York Magistrates’ Court this week, Featon entered guilty pleas to all charges.

RSPCA Inspector Alice Cooper, who led the investigation in North Duffield, near Selby, said: “Some of the puppies were in very poor condition; thin and lethargic with swollen, distended abdomens. Three Jack Russell terrier puppies had collapsed.

“Police seized all of the dogs and we rushed them to the vets where a number of the pups were diagnosed with parvovirus - a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease.

“They were all hospitalised and needed intensive veterinary treatment but, unfortunately, we lost four because they were so incredibly poorly.”

Eighteen dogs – including spaniels, lurchers and crossbreeds – pulled through and were taken in by RSPCA centres while the investigation was ongoing. 

Inspector Cooper added: “Our investigations established that Mr Featon was buying in dogs from Ireland and elsewhere in England, and then selling them on to the public. 

“However, he was keeping the dogs in disgusting conditions and had categorically failed to provide veterinary care to those that had fallen ill.”

Featon, of Roughaw Road, Skipton, fined £130 and was disqualified from dealing in dogs. The 50-year-old is permitted to own dogs as pets, but cannot be involved in commercial activity involving the animals.

The court returned to pet lurchers to him. He must also pay £300 court costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

The Northern Echo:

James Featon has been fined £130 for causing unnecessary suffering to animals. Picture: RSPCA

PC Sarah Ward of North Yorkshire Police said: “I’m very pleased with the result and thankful that we found the puppies when we did, saving them from more suffering.

"They were kept in cold, damp conditions without their mums and most of them were very ill with a number needing urgent veterinary attention. Sadly, some did not make it. 

“We urge members of the public to only ever buy puppies from reputable dog breeders or adopt a rescue dog from a known charity.”

The dogs, which have all been in RSPCA care during the investigation, were signed over this week and can now be rehomed. They will be available after Christmas. 

“Unfortunately this sort of thing is something we see all too often at the RSPCA,” Inspector Cooper added.

“Breeding and selling puppies is big business and with certain breeds selling for hundreds if not thousands of pounds there are a lot of people trying to cash in.

“Sadly, some sellers like Mr Featon will put profits ahead of the health and welfare of the dogs. This is completely unacceptably.

“We’d urge anyone thinking of getting a dog to consider rescuing from a charity such as the RSPCA. We have thousands of dogs in our centres this Christmas waiting for new homes.”

For more information about adopting an RSPCA rescue dog, visit rspca.org.uk/findapet