Devon

Death row dog kennel to be investigated over treatment of animals

Dog
Image caption David Clark, Foredowne Boarding Kennel's former kennel manager, said three pit bull puppies were were not exercised

A kennel used by police and local councils to house stray and seized dogs is facing two reviews into its treatment of animals.

Foredowne Boarding Kennel is facing allegations about how dogs, seized by Devon and Cornwall Police and placed there, were kept without exercise.

The licensing authority, Teignbridge Council, said it was investigating.

The kennel said it was staffed by "animal lovers who work tirelessly to care and rehabilitate the dogs".

The RSPCA announced on Friday it had agreed with the Devon and Cornwall Police force's request to review the way in which dogs seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 were cared for in kennels.

'Do not enter kennels'

Whistleblowers have made a series of allegations about dogs being put in 3ft by 9ft cages and then, due to safety concerns, not exercised.

These include Stella, who had been caged for nearly two years, and Vinnie, a Rottweiler who whistleblowers said had also not been exercised.

Image copyright Laura Khanlarian
Image caption Stella and Vinnie were among a number of dogs housed in the private kennels used by Devon and Cornwall Police

The BBC has also been told that three puppies, brought in at 11-weeks old, were briefly walked before being denied exercise. Further claims have been made that stray dogs brought in by local councils were also denied exercise.

Devon and Cornwall Police are understood to have used the kennels to place a number of seized dogs but said since 2012 they had only instructed staff not to exercise four of these.

However, current and former members of staff have said as many as 20 dogs had 'Do Not Enter' signs on their cages.

Former kennel manager David Clark said in the three years he worked there he did not see those dogs exercised.

A spokesman for the kennels said: "The puppies were walked regularly, as part of their kennel enrichment activities. However, we carry out regular risk assessments, and for these particular dogs, as they came into maturity they started to show signs of aggression.

"We did have to stop the walks during the final few weeks of their stay with us.

"One member of staff was bitten and, of course, we do have to take into account the breed characteristics of their parents, both very dangerous dogs."

The spokesman said the kennels had cared for many dogs over the years, and had "an excellent working relationship with Devon and Cornwall Police".

The spokesman said: "We are animal lovers and work tirelessly to care and rehabilitate the dogs that come to us from the police, but unfortunately sometimes the risks are too great.

"We would of course welcome and fully support any investigation by the council or RSPCA. We are confident that we have abided by all the relevant rules and regulations."

A spokeswoman for Teignbridge District Council said: "We take all complaints of animal welfare seriously and will be carrying out an investigation into the specific allegations that have been made."

'Caged puppies'

Pit bulls Smokey and Lola were seized by police from the same owner over suspicions that the dogs were trained to attack. Their three puppies were seized at the same time.

Mr Clark said: "The three pit bull terrier pups came in at 11 weeks. They were initially exercised before deteriorating so much they were deemed unsafe.

"The police were informed and they went on to do at least six months with no exercise."

Image caption Police said Smokey and Lola were seized from the same owner and there were suspicions that both these dogs were trained to attack

In a statement, Ch Supt Jim Nye said: "Since 2012, we have seized and placed into kennels in the region of 200 dogs, of which only four were given a strict order not to exercise by Devon and Cornwall Police due to the dog's unpredictable and dangerous nature."

He said they included Stella, Gnasha - another pit bull, Smokey and Lola.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police added: "As regards any other dogs the kennel has chosen not to walk during this time - there may be some - that is a decision made by the kennel as part of their duty of care for the animals they have.

"While we have individual care plans for all dogs which we have seized, ultimately the kennel maintains this duty of care."

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