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UPDATE 25th October, 2023:

Monmouthshire County Council has secured a Section 20 Order under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to legally take the dogs of Lost Souls Sanctuary into our care. The hearing took place at Newport Magistrates Court on 24 October in front of the District Judge. The compelling evidence saw the withdrawal of the defence with no conditions attached.

The welfare of the dogs remains our prime concern and all dogs in our possession are doing well. We will now proceed to finding permanent homes for them. Further legal proceedings are likely continue at pace to conclude the matters as expediently as possible.

No further comments will be made at this stage.

On 15th August 2023 authorised officers exercised their powers under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (The Act*), following significant concern for the welfare of dogs at an animal sanctuary in Monmouthshire. This was after a significant number of independent complaints over the last three years and attempts by officers to visit, support the owner and undertake assessments.

What the Law says:

Section 9 of The Act* places a duty of care on those responsible for animals take all reasonable steps in all the circumstances to meet the welfare needs of their animals to the extent required by good practice. What this means, is that they must take positive steps to care for their animals properly and must provide for the five welfare needs:

  • need for a suitable environment
  • need for a suitable diet
  • need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • need to be housed with, or apart, from other animals
  • need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

When officers’ attempts to advise and work with owners to address identified welfare concerns fail, officers can apply to the Court for an entry warrant in order to enter the relevant premises and fully assess whether the animal’s needs are being met in accordance with law.

Who made the decisions to take the dogs into possession?

In the case of Lost Souls Sanctuary, an application, together with supporting evidence, for an entry warrant was made to the Magistrates Court. Following consideration of the application and evidence provided, the application was granted by a District Judge. The warrant was executed by qualified, competent officers, supported by two expert veterinarians and experienced behaviourists, in the presence of the Police. On lawful execution of the warrant, it was evident that the needs described above were not seen to be afforded to the animals in the sanctuary. As a result, officers exercised their powers under Section 18 of the Act and took 82 animals into their possession.

Red, amber or green?

To ensure the safety of officers during the search, officers with knowledge of the dogs’ behaviour marked the kennels with a warning card of red, amber or green. It was important to implement a safety management system in order to keep the dogs as calm and comfortable as possible and to minimise the number of staff in the areas.

Red – indicated that the kennel should only be entered by a vet and behaviourist

Amber – indicated that the kennel could be entered by those officers with behavioural / dog training experience who were confident with large dogs.

Green – indicated that the kennel could be entered by officers with experience of handling large dogs.

Difficult decisions

A number of difficult decisions were made by the experts present on the day in respect of some animals which has understandably caused upset, however these decisions were carefully and sensitively taken and were based on welfare evidence. Those considered decisions were carried through in a thoughtful, humane manner and the animals were treated with dignity throughout as were those that left the premises.

What happens next?

Any animals that are taken into possession under Section 18 of the Act, will now be subject to an application to Court under Section 20 of the Act. This application will seek an order that places the seized animals in the possession of MCC. If granted, the Court may order any of the following:

  1. that specified treatment be administered to the animal;
  2. that possession of the animal be given up to a specified person;
  3. that the animal be sold;
  4. that the animal be disposed of otherwise than by way of sale;
  5. that the animal be destroyed.

An application under Section 20 of The Act, requires the Local Authority to provide further evidence to the Magistrates Court in order for the Court to make an evidence based decision following a hearing. The evidence, in part, will be in the form of the signed veterinary certificates in respect of the dogs seized.

Frequently Asked Questions

Was this an illegal raid?

No, an entry warrant was applied for by the Local Authority and granted by a District Judge at Court.

How many dogs were euthanised and why?

Sadly 11 dogs were put to sleep after being assessed in relation to their welfare.

Were the animals assessed thoroughly and euthanised by a qualified vet?

Yes all animals were thoroughly assessed, euthanised by a qualified vet and best practice followed.

Were any dogs removed illegally from the house?

No, all dogs were lawfully taken under the powers in Section 18 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Were inhumane handling methods used?

Not at all, vets and behaviourists were present to ensure the health and welfare of the dogs during the day.

How many dogs did you take and what has happened to them? Some of the dogs are described as needing specific medical care, is this happening?

71 dogs have been temporarily rehomed until the Court determines whether they will be placed in the possession of the local authority. During this time all of the dogs will receive further veterinary assessment with appropriate medical care being provided as advised.