A devastated dog owner says he feels like he has “lost his family” after his 14 German shepherds were seized during a council swoop at his home.
Environmental health officers took court action to remove the dogs from Anthony Ross’s home in Lulworth Avenue, Jarrow, after concerns had been raised for their wellbeing.
The animals were inspected by a vet, who advised that not all of the dogs – aged between 18 months and 12 years old – should be returned to the 61-year-old.
But Mr Ross will be allowed to take back three of his precious pets, with two set to be handed over to a friend, after agreeing to a court order transferring nine of the dogs to the care of South Tyneside Council.
The order was rubber-stamped at a civil hearing at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
Mr Ross says he signed the court order in order to ensure he at least got some of his dogs back after the council took action because they felt 14 dogs in the property was not sustainable.
Mr Ross said: “I feel terrible. They are like my bairns, they are part of the family. I feel the decision is vindictive. The dogs were all well looked after and well fed and watered. I spent £1,000 paving the back yard so it was easier to get rid of waste.
“It all came about two months ago when I spent a night in the cells after being arrested for being drunk and disorderly and gave the police my key as I wanted the dogs to be fed.
“When I got my key back, they told me my dogs had been seized by the council.”
He now faces a ‘heartbreaking’ decision over which of his 14 dogs to take back.
He added: “That will be the hardest part. It will be heartbreaking deciding which of the three I will choose. I breed the dogs and I had meant to just have nine in the house at any one time. The house is so quiet and empty now they are not here.”
South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “The council secured a warrant and removed 14 dogs from the property in June following concerns raised about the welfare of the animals.
“The dogs were examined by a vet and it was considered that their mental and physical health would likely suffer due to their large number in such a limited space.
“Since then we have been working with Mr Ross to agree a way forward.
“He can have three of the dogs returned, with conditions attached. The court order also permitted that the remaining 11 dogs be rehomed.”
Concern over the number of pets on property
Environmental health officers found the dogs in two of the three bedrooms in Mr Ross’s home after concerns were raised for their safety.
The animals were inspected by a vet, who advised that they could be caused ‘suffering’ if all were returned to the address.
Council officers were concerned over whether the owner was able to cope with caring for so many dogs and whether his accommodation was suitable for such a number of pets.
Debbie Lloyd, prosecuting on behalf of South Tyneside Council, said the authority’s environmental health team had secured a warrant from the court to search the 61-year-old’s property.
She said: “On June 19, a warrant was issued under the Animal Welfare Act for environmental health officers to enter the property because the court was satisfied the dogs were likely to be suffering.
“It was at that time the council found there were 14 German shepherd dogs in the property, within two bedrooms of the house.
“A vet was involved and she said that if the animals were returned to the property it would cause them suffering.”
An order was made at the court stating that at least nine of the dogs would remain in the care of the council.
Denise Aubrey, representing Mr Ross, said: “There is no suggestion my client is cruel to animals, otherwise the council wouldn’t have agreed for him to have three dogs back.
“He loves the dogs and wants them back.”