Writes Alex Winter

A SMALLHOLDER has been banned from keeping animals after officials found 20 carcasses of ducks, chicken and geese.

Magistrates say Dennis Thorne, 43 and of Gillingham, North Dorset, cannot own any breed of animal for a decade after the find in March.

Trading Standards officers had made the discovery on a visit to land Thorne rented in Okeford Fitzpaine, near Sturminster Newton.

As well as the carcasses of animals, they found surviving poultry were emaciated and living in filthy conditions.

Two starving goats were also found in a small pen with no clean water or dry laying area. In a nearby barn were cages containing the carcasses of two ferrets.

The cages were filthy and all of the drinking containers were empty.

Thorne had been given advice about tagging the goats on a previous occasion. However, the pair had not been tagged.

Officials seized the living animals under the Animal Health Act. They were then given into the care of the RSPCA. Thorne later agreed to give up ownership of them.

This week, Thorne appeared at Weymouth Magistrates' Court for sentence after admitting six offences under the animal health and welfare legislation after the investigation by the Dorset Council team.

This included four offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 of causing unnecessary suffering to a flock of 30 to 40 poultry, as well as the two goats and two ferrets, by failing to provide them with appropriate care, and one offence of failing to inspect his animals at regular intervals.

He was sentenced to 14 weeks' imprisonment, which was suspended for 12 months, as well as a 12-month community order, under which he must carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and 20 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement.

He was also ordered to pay £600 towards prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £115.

Magistrates were told Thorne had received a formal caution from the RSPCA in 2009 for causing unnecessary suffering to a horse.

Ivan Hancock, service manager for Trading Standards at Dorset Council, said: “Our Trading Standards team work with livestock keepers to improve the welfare of their animals, but when advice and basic animal husbandry is ignored, formal action is considered.

"All livestock keepers have a clear responsibility to ensure conditions they keep animals in, and the care they are given, is adequate.

"Where there is evidence of unnecessary suffering we will intervene and consider formal enforcement action.”

For health and welfare advice on keeping farmed animals or to report an animal welfare problem, Dorset residents can call the Trading Standards animal health line on 01305 224475, or email tradingstandards@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk.

Originally published in the Bournemouth Echo

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