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Puppy farmer Mark Burgess avoids jail after RSPCA probe at Brenzett farm

ByCharlie Harman

A breeder who left a four-week-old puppy in a freezer and sold sick animals to new owners has avoided jail.

Mark Burgess, 39, was convicted of eight offences under the Animal Welfare Act after the RSPCA raided a farm in Brenzett near Ashford.

Many animals were stored in small cages without beds or toys. Picture: RSPCA (15157828)
Many animals were stored in small cages without beds or toys. Picture: RSPCA (15157828)

Inspectors found 20 dogs, including eight puppies, living in unsuitable conditions - with one frozen rigid.

Burgess appeared for sentencing at Canterbury Magistrates’ Court today and was handed a two-year community order.

His Old Ashford Road farm was raided by the RSPCA earlier this year, where inspectors had to remove a number of animals who were suffering from sickness and physical ailments.

Among the more shocking discoveries were the charred remains of an animal, a kitten found in a turned off freezer and a frozen puppy corpse.

The RSPCA launched the probe after reports that four puppies bought from the farm between December 2017 and February 2018 had become ill and died.

An RSPCA raid on Mark Burgess' farm came after a number of puppies died shortly after sale - including one on the night it was rehomed. Picture: RSPCA
An RSPCA raid on Mark Burgess' farm came after a number of puppies died shortly after sale - including one on the night it was rehomed. Picture: RSPCA

Initially sent to Folkestone Magistrates' court in May, Burgess was convicted of eight animal welfare counts at a hearing in August.

Clips of footage shot by inspectors highlighted the poor conditions of the animals and their living space.

One elderly dog, Burgess' personal pet, had to be put down following the inspection.

At today's hearing, Burgess was handed two-year community order, 30 days probation, a six-month curfew and a ban on the selling of dogs for two years.

His lawyer Gordon Crow, defending, read a letter written by Burgess.

Dogs were found to be living in kennels with bare floors and without bedding. Picture: RSPCA
Dogs were found to be living in kennels with bare floors and without bedding. Picture: RSPCA

It said: "You've found me guilty of selling three puppies that I should have realised were ill and should've taken to the vet.

"I accept your decision and I apologise to all concerned.

"I've been brought up around animals and love being around them more than people.

"Since being found guilty it's been a nightmare.

'I've been brought up around animals and love being around them more than people...' - Mark Burgess

"We've received death threats, attacks on our property and my children have been shunned and bullied.

"I've even been shunned by my own traveller community.

"It's my animals that have given me strength recently.

"I've always said I'll pay the money back to the buyers and I'm sorry for what they've gone through."

District Judge Justin Barron noted his belief that Burgess loved his dogs.

He said: "I know there were threats made to you and members of your family and that's acted as a punishment itself - in many ways a greater punishment than I can give you in this case.

"Therefore I'm going to sentence you with deliberately mistreating animals.

"Some of the standards in some of the kennels were very poor but equally I note there were some where the standards were good or very good.

"I also note since the RSPCA seized the animals, they served you with an improvement notice.

"There has been no animals seized since because they found they were well kept."

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Ashford

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