'Dog breeder put puppies through mincer to feed ferrets'
Published 27/06/2011 | 13:27
A cruel dog breeder disposed of dead puppies by putting them through a mincer, it was claimed at a court hearing.
Shamed Henry Williamson pleaded guilty to six charges of causing unnecessary suffering to puppies and dogs.
The case has horrified the animal cruelty inspectors who have described Williamson as callous and savage. Lisburn City Council said the cruelty case was one of most serious its dog wardens have ever witnessed.
Stephen Philpott of the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA) told how he saw “blood, guts and animal fur” in a mincer at Williamson’s filthy premises and also believes still-born pups were fed to ferrets at the site.
Williamson, from Barnfield Road, Dunmurry, Northern Ireland pleaded guilty to keeping an unregistered breeding establishment and six charges of unnecessary suffering to puppies and dogs.
The 69-year-old is due to be sentenced at Lisburn Magistrate’s Court next month but local USPCA boss Stephen Philpott says the animal welfare organisation would be “more than happy” if he is banned from keeping animals for life.
After the case shamefaced Williamson told Sunday Life he was innocent of all charges and denied puppies had been minced or fed to ferrets.
USPCA chief Mr Philpott was prepared to give evidence at the trial which was scheduled for last Tuesday.
Instead, he and other witnesses watched as Williamson finally admitted the charges.
Mr Philpott, who has been Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the USPCA for 20 years, told Sunday Life of his disgust when he went to Williamson’s home on February 24 last year.
He rushed to the premises after receiving a call from a horrified member of the public who claimed dead puppies were being put through a mincer. Mr Philpott advised the caller to phone police and when he arrived at the premises other USPCA staff and police were already on site where they found over 60 dogs in makeshift pens.
Mr Philpott said: “I noticed immediately that due to the layout of these structures that during cleaning, waste materials would have had to flow into the adjoining pen.
“Some of the animals had scalds on their feet and I believe this is caused by urine flowing freely from the pens.”
He said many of the animals had skin and ear irritations - possibly caused by mite infestations.
“I am in no doubt that the environment in which they were being kept and the absence of the most basic animal hygiene requirements were contributing to this,” he said.
Mr Philpott believes it was a dog factory where the animals were kept purely for profit.
“I was there and I know what I saw,” he said.
“We believe that if one pup wasn’t fit to go in the shop window he disposed of it in what we would call a very, very callous manner.
“He wasn’t one bit interested in the dogs — he was only interested in what came out of their wombs. That’s all he cared about: what was pregnant and what gave birth.
“When I got there there was blood, guts and animal fur in that mincer and I firmly believe animals were put through that mincer.
“It’s like an apple farmer working out which apples he’s keeping and which ones are rotten and will be turned into cider.
“We also removed half-eaten carcasses, which we believe to be still-born pups, out of the ferret enclosure.
“Every shortcut that was possible to take to maximise profit was being taken. The animals weren’t even being given proper food. It was just awful.”
During the visit Williamson revealed his breeding establishment license had been suspended because Lisburn City Council required significant work to be carried out.
Mr Philpott said Williamson initially told him the name of the vet he used but when he contacted the surgery they told him Williamson was not known to them.
“I believed it would be impossible to keep this number of dogs and their resulting offspring without regular input and advice from a competent veterinary surgeon,” he said.
“Eventually he [Williamson] admitted that while he had been in that practice purchasing medication for his animals this was done over the counter without any form of examination or site visit taking place.”
Mr Philpott recommended that the animals requiring veterinary attention should be removed that night.
He said: “At this point Mr Williamson became very agi
tated and insisted that the USPCA take away all the dogs and he cited health problems as an excuse which prevented him from complying or looking after the animals as per the current legislation.
“I told Mr Williamson that due to the lateness of the hour and the fact that the entire area was experiencing a power failure it was not possible to evacuate the animals that night but my staff, Lisburn dog warden and police would return in the morning to remove all animals.
“I instructed my staff to remove two spaniels and three ferrets for immediate veterinary treatment that night.”
Mr Philpott said he and his staff were horrified at the “naked commercialism” of the place.
“Just think of the whole thing as a dog factory made up of makeshift pens and doors, salvage and scrap. The animals were being kept in there in the dark being bred and re-bred.
“Those are the actions of a savage. The USPCA would be more than happy if Mr Williamson had nothing more to do with animals for the rest of his life.” A spokeswoman for Lisburn City Council said: “This case is one of the most serious acts of cruelty that the Council dog wardens have witnessed.
“Council Officers assisted the PSNI in the investigation and the Council would support a lifetime ban from keeping dogs being imposed in such cases.”
Williamson later told our reporter that none of the dogs or ferrets on the site belonged to him and denied that puppies had been minced or fed to ferrets. He added he would be happy if he received a lifetime ban from keeping animals.