A MAN has been given a suspended prison sentence and told he can no longer keep pets following a string of offences.

Gordon Clarke, 62, pleaded guilty to seven animal welfare offences related to 15 dogs.

Clarke, of Black Dog Walk, Crawley, appeared at Crawley Magistrates’ Court for sentencing.

RSPCA officers visited a property in Crawley on April 6 after concerns were raised about the welfare of a large number of animals living at the home.

They spoke to Clarke and gave him advice related to a spaniel with an extensively matted coat.

Clarke refused the officers access to the rest of the animals so they returned on April 8 with Sussex Police with a warrant.

An independent vet checked all of the animals and 16 dogs and two cats were seized, under the Animal Welfare Act, and taken for treatment.

These included chihuahuas, spaniels and rottweilers.

The vet found many of the dogs were suffering from ear infections, skin disease, conjunctivitis, and dental disease.

The animals were all later signed over and taken into RSPCA care. They have been rehomed successfully by the charity.

However, one spaniel, despite veterinary treatment, had to be put to sleep.

Video footage taken at the home shows the conditions the dogs were living in.

The Argus: Dog rescued from Clarke's houseDog rescued from Clarke's house

Inspector Tony Woodley, who led the investigation, said in his witness statement: “The interior of the house was dimly lit. The ‘living room’ area with a sofa and very large TV was accessible by the cats, rottweilers and chihuahuas. There were food and water bowls in this area.

“To the rear of this was an area of approximately 4m x 2.5m which contained the spaniels.

"This area had a strong smell and the walls and floor were stained with either faeces or dirt or a mixture of the two.

"There was a human bed in this area with a mattress. The mattress was stained brown and there were blankets on it which were also brown and covered in faeces or mud.

"The floor had concrete missing in places and two dogs were cowering in the area where a draw was missing from a wooden chest of drawers.

"There were no water or food bowls in this area. In this area I saw packs of dog food but this was not accessible to the dogs.

He also said the spaniels looked like they had been roughly de-matted with a sharp implement and some of the dogs had open wounds.

Clarke’s solicitor told the court that he was not the owner of the animals and had been struggling with physical and mental health issues but the court determined that he had taken a "leading role" in the offences which involved "prolonged and serious neglect".

He was given an 18-week prison sentence - suspended for 12 months - and disqualified from keeping all animals for life.

He was also ordered to complete ten rehabilitation activity requirement days and pay costs and a victim surcharge of £278.

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