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Dog breeder loses appeal over puppies' tail docking
7:40pm Saturday 14th February 2009 in News
A dog breeder who docked the tails of his puppies has lost his appeal against causing them unnecessary suffering.
Tony Sims used cable ties to remove the tails from boxer and rottweiler pups he bred at his home in London Road, Hailsham.
Police and RSPCA officers raided the detached house after a tip-off that he had carried out the act.
The raid took place just days after new laws banning tail docking came into force in April 2007.
Officers removed 22 dogs and puppies from the house on the advice of a vet, an appeal hearing at Hove Crown Court was told.
One rottweiler pup had an eye injury that was so bad the eye had to be removed.
Other pups needed surgery to sew up their tails, which still had bone protruding from the end.
RSPCA Inspector Charlotte Baumann said the smell of urine and faeces in the rooms and garage where some of the dogs were found was overpowering.
Sims, 31, was later convicted of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to take steps to prevent pain caused to the puppies as a result of having their tails docked.
He was also convicted of failing to adequately worm the pups and of keeping them in unsuitable conditions.
He was given a four-month prison sentence but it was stayed pending the outcome of his appeal.
His wife Deborah, 43, was also convicted in her absence by Hastings magistrates of causing unnecessary suffering to the dogs at her trial in December.
She was cleared of all charges on appeal yesterday after she told the court her husband was responsible for the dogs because she is allergic to them.
The court was also told that she was not fit to be interviewed after the couple were arrested because of a medical condition.
Sims said he had been breeding boxers and rottweilers for two years and sold puppies for £450 each.
He said he had never been in trouble before and had never had any complaints from people who bought puppies from him.
He said: “I spoke to other breeders who said they were still docking tails.
“The injury to the rottweiler puppy’s eye happened three or four days earlier and I bathed it five times a day.”
Sims lost his appeal against conviction on five charges of causing unnecessary suffering but was cleared of failing to keep the dogs in an appropriate environment.
He was given a two-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £5,000 towards the RSPCA’s costs.
Recorder John Hardy QC said: “This court accepts that you are an animal lover who took on too much with too many dogs at one time.
“You were not cruel or sadistic towards the dogs and these offences were as a result of failing to take action.
“The legislation regarding docking is to prevent unnecessary suffering. By definition unnecessary suffering is caused if docking is performed illegally.
“We accept Mr Sims evidence that he was unaware of the full rigour of the law and that he believed he was not causing unnecessary suffering.
“The RSPCA acted entirely correctly and responsibly in taking the action that they did.”
After she was cleared Mrs Sims said: “I am just happy it is all over. I do not hold what happened against the RSPCA.”
Chief Inspector Patrick Hanby, of the RSPCA, said: “We abide by the decision of the court. The court recognised that we acted in the best interests of the dogs and acted professionally throughout this case.”