Pair guilty of animal welfare offences after 85 dogs seized in Ipswich

More than 80 suspected stolen dogs were seized following a raid at West Meadows travellers site on the outskirts of Ipswich.

The West Meadows travellers' site on the outskirts of Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Two people have admitted a string of animal welfare offences following a police operation which saw dozens of dogs seized from the West Meadows travellers' site in Ipswich.

Stacy Humphrys leaving Suffolk Magistrates' Court

Stacy Humphrys leaving Suffolk Magistrates' Court - Credit: Archant

A total of 85 dogs of various breeds and ages were found at the address of estranged couple Maria Lee and Stacy Humphrys on Saturday, March 20.

Maria Lee leaving Suffolk Magistrates' Court

Maria Lee leaving Suffolk Magistrates' Court - Credit: Archant

On Friday, Suffolk Magistrates' Court heard that, despite initial suspicions, none of the dogs were now thought to have been stolen.

Prosecutor Ashley Petchey said 67 were since established to have belonged to 47-year-old Lee, who was charged with failure to fulfil her responsibility for the dogs under the Animal Welfare Act and with five counts of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to access adequate veterinary care for three cocker spaniels, a French bulldog and a German shepherd.

Humphrys, 34, was charged with failing to fulfil his responsibility for the dogs under the Animal Welfare Act and with two counts of breaching a disqualification imposed following a previous conviction, by participating in the keeping of two cocker spaniels and a cavalier King Charles spaniel.

Mr Petchey said an RSPCA inspector found a number of kennels, pens and crates inside and outside the property – each containing up to five dogs in varying conditions and states of health, including some with limited or no access to food or water.

Meanwhile, an almost entirely shaven German shepherd was found on a seven or eight-foot tether near a blood-stained kennel, standing on rotten hay, in a distressed condition and likened to "swimming in a pool of faeces" by the RSPCA inspector.

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Vets later treated two dogs for eye and ear infections, while a third dog was put down following a cancer diagnosis.

In September 2019, Humphrys was handed a 16 week prison sentence and a lifetime ban from keeping animals – later reduced to five years – for causing unnecessary suffering and failing to meet the needs of a large number of dogs.

In 2014, he was jailed for 28 months for causing a public nuisance by allowing his horses to stray on to the A14 after one ran into the path of traffic and caused the death of a 23-year-old man driving home for Christmas in 2012.

Magistrates ordered the preparation of a pre-sentence report for both defendants.

The pair were released on conditional bail until a sentencing hearing on September 7.