Combe Raleigh kennels owner ordered to pay thousands of pounds over dog death

PUBLISHED: 11:00 31 October 2017

Archie (top right) died at Barn Close Kennels in Combe Raleigh in November 2016.

Archie (top right) died at Barn Close Kennels in Combe Raleigh in November 2016.

Archant

Paul William Sparks kept the body of Archie, a Chihuahua/Jack Russell cross, in his deep freeze after the dog was killed at a Combe Raleigh kennels, a court heard.

A kennels owner has been ordered to pay thousands of pounds after a dog in his care was killed by another pet.

Paul William Sparks kept the body of Archie, a Chihuahua/Jack Russell cross, in his deep freeze after the dog was killed at a Combe Raleigh kennels, a court heard.

The 61-year-old, of Barn Close Kennels, then lied to Archie’s owner by telling her the dog was at the vets, then had been cremated, before finally admitting it was in his deep freeze.

Exeter Magistrates’ Court heard how Sparks failed to contact the relevant authorities or Archie’s owner following the dog’s death.

Gavin Collett, prosecuting for East Devon District Council (EDDC), told the bench that Archie’s death happened on the day he arrived at the kennels in October last year.

He said Archie escaped his pen into what should have been a ‘secure corridor’, before his body was later found in an exercise yard ‘not designed for small dogs’.

Archie suffered a broken spine and two puncture wounds to his abdomen.

The court heard that Sparks failed to notify EDDC as licensing authority or a vet - requirements of his kennels licence - or Archie’s owner.

Mr Collett said that Archie’s owner only found out about his death after her parents came to collect the dog two days after the incident.

Magistrates heard that Archie’s owner had asked Sparks to transfer the body to her vets for cremation.

Mr Collett said: “At first, Sparks said it was at the vets and had been cremated.

“She wanted to intern Archie herself.

“Eventually, he admitted the dog was residing in his deep freeze.

“When asked why Archie had not been transferred to a vet, Sparks said: ‘I know a dead dog when I see one’.”

Barrister David Campbell, defending, said since the incident Sparks had ‘suffered depression’ and been subject of five death threats, which police are investigating.

Mr Campbell said: “It is correct to say not-withstanding this tragic incident, the kennels were going through improvement to ensure they were up to standard.”

Mr Campbell told the bench Sparks had indicated he was ‘nonplussed’ by the incident and was more concerned with how it happened.

He added: “He was scared, he abdicated his responsibility... What he can say is that this will not happen again.”

The court heard that Sparks was unable to explain why he did not follow procedure after Archie’s death.

Mr Campbell said: “One can ask Mr Sparks again and again ‘Why did you make the crass error with hindsight not the deal with the situation then?’

“For the life of him, he can not explain.”

Mr Campbell told the bench that Sparks had learnt from the incident and had put his ‘heart and soul’ into the business throughout the years.

He added: “For an incident that was traumatic for the owners, it was also traumatic for Mr Sparks.”

Sparks, who admitted a charge under the Animal Welfare Act and four breaches of his licence at a hearing in August, remained stoic as he was served his sentence.

Chair of the bench, Susan Lloyd, said Spark’s failure to notify Archie’s owner was ‘reprehensible, and it was ‘almost inexplicable’ that a vet was not contacted after the dog’s death.

Mrs Lloyd said while Archie’s death could have ‘unquestionably’ been avoided, she took into account Sparks’ previous ‘unblemished record’ and engagement with authorities.

Passing sentence, Mrs Lloyd told Sparks: “I hope you have learnt your lesson. We have seen photos and documents that have caused us concern.”

Sparks was ordered to pay £1,135 in fines and £3,000 costs.

The JPs did not ban him from keeping animals or running his kennels.

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