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Puppy farmer Mark Burgess convicted of eight animal welfare offences

By Charlie Harman

A raid on a pet farm - during which inspectors found a puppy frozen in a freezer - has led to a conviction for its owner on eight animal welfare offences.

RSPCA inspectors descended on the Old Ashford Road in Brenzett, near Ashford, following complaints by four members of the public.

The complainants had purchased puppies from Mark Burgess between December 2017 and February 2018, with all of the animals quickly falling ill and dying.

Footage from the farm raid

Footage captured during the early morning raid showed soaked bedding, shelters with bare, rotten floorboards and dogs chained to kennels.

In the bodycam video - projected during the initial trial at Folkestone Magistrates' court in May - a range of concerns were highlighted, including a cat that was found shivering in a turned-off freezer.

RSPCA inspectors noted incidents of skin disease, claws growing into toepads and cat flu amongst the animals on the farm.

Animals were kept outside, tethered to their kennels. Picture: RSPCA
Animals were kept outside, tethered to their kennels. Picture: RSPCA

Among the more shocking discoveries caught on camera was the charred corpse of a small animal discovered in a "burner drum".

Lead RSPCA Inspector Carroll Lamport said: "We found a mix of different breeds at the site including beagles, Dalmatians, spaniels and dachshund crosses.

"Some were pregnant, others had litters of tiny puppies while some had clear signs that they’d been used for breeding previously.

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

"Some of the dogs were extremely frightened and shut down. Some were living in almost complete darkness and others were huddled at the back of their runs.

"One beagle was sitting uncomfortably in a filthy, wet kennel. She looked so depressed.

"When we searched a freezer on-site we made a horrifying discovery; a small, four-week-old puppy.

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)

"The body was frozen rigid and dumped in the bottom of a blood-soaked freezer.”

KentOnline has chosen not to include a video taken on the day of the frozen Rottweiler.

The raid happened on February 21.

In total, 20 dogs were found living in unsuitable conditions and were seized by police and placed into RSPCA care - 12 adults and eight puppies.

These kittens were found to be suffering from cat flu and seized by inspectors. Picture: RSPCA
These kittens were found to be suffering from cat flu and seized by inspectors. Picture: RSPCA

Two cats and three kittens suffering from cat flu were also seized and later signed over.

An elderly German Shepherd - which it's believed was Mr Burgess' personal pet - was showing signs of skin disease, muscle wastage and weak back legs after being found living outside, tethered to an old wooden kennel.

The German Shepherd was put to sleep but the remaining dogs were all signed over into RSPCA care and rehomed.

This elderly German Shepherd had to be put down after it was found with skin disease, muscle wastage and weak back legs. Picture: RSPCA
This elderly German Shepherd had to be put down after it was found with skin disease, muscle wastage and weak back legs. Picture: RSPCA

Eight infringements of the Animal Welfare Act were levelled at the 39-year-old, including causing unnecessary suffering to puppies by failing to investigate and address the cause of the animal’s ill health and by selling the animal in an unfit state.

Other convictions include failing to provide veterinary care in respect of a Beagle's eye condition and failing to provide a number of dogs with a suitable environment and diet.

Mr Burgess, 39, will appear for sentencing at Canterbury Magistrates’ Court on September 23.

Escaped animals, unusual finds and news from the RSPCA can all be found here

To get the latest updates in ongoing cases, police appeals and criminals put behind bars, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Ashford

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