A dog breeder has been fined £960 and ordered to pay more than £400 in costs after at least five dead puppies were discovered strewn across a country lane.
Ian Thomas, 42, of Pilgrims Lane, Whitstable, who runs Doodlepets and breeds cockapoos with his partner Angela Manning, pleaded guilty to breaching s34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, at Canterbury Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (23 January).
The law says those transporting industrial waste, which includes dead animals if they are a breeder, have a duty to take reasonable measures to prevent its escape.
Peter Kee, prosecuting the case on behalf of Canterbury City Council, told the court a number of cockapoo puppies died in June and were put in black sacks.
On July 10, Thomas decided to take them to the tip in Canterbury. Mr Kee said: “However, they did not make it there and the black sacks with the bodies of the puppies were spotted by a woman driving along Fox’s Cross Road, Whitstable, a short while later. At that stage she could not be sure whether the puppies were still alive.
“She called her daughter and asked her to inform the RSPCA and request that they come to the scene. When they arrived, the RSPCA took the very graphic images seen by the court today.”
The bags containing the puppies also included a contract for a cockapoo puppy that was sold by Doodlepets Ltd for £2,000.
Mr Kee added: “An aggravating factor in this case is there is a history of non-compliance with the regulator.”
Representing himself, Thomas told the court he accepted it was his responsibility to keep his waste under control and he failed to do so.
He told the court: “It was an accident and not deliberate and I have not profited from my actions. I am very sorry for the distress caused. Dog breeding is not an exact science and sometimes things can go wrong and we don’t know why. It’s taboo to talk about it.”
The court was told Doodlepets advertises cockapoo puppies for sale. A black puppy costs £2,000 while an apricot-coloured one would cost £2,500. It costs £100 for customers to be included on a priority email mailing list.
Thomas was fined £960, and ordered to pay £414 in costs and a £96 victim surcharge.
Speaking after the case, Douglas Rattray, Canterbury City Council’s head of safer communities said: “This is a highly unusual case and it feels uncomfortable to be describing dead puppies as industrial waste even though technically that is true when it comes to a dog breeding business.
“As Thomas acknowledges, it must have been incredibly distressing for a member of the public to come across the black sacks containing dead puppies by the side of the road and we are glad he has apologised to them and the court.
“By pleading guilty, Thomas has accepted he had a responsibility to take care of the waste he was transporting. That rule applies to everyone.
“We are determined to ensure the district is not blighted by waste at the side of the road whether it was left there by accident or negligence, as in this case, or whether it is caused by littering or flytipping. We will always investigate and those we catch will be liable to substantial fines and could end up in court with a criminal conviction.”