South Wales: Dog breeder's house of horrors

A breeder has been banned from keeping dogs for five years after the RSPCA discovered she was depriving nearly 100 animals of food and water and keeping them amongst the bodies of decomposing puppies at her home in Wales.

Police visited Julie Newcombe's house in Blaenau Gwent, south-west Wales and found she was keeping 90 dogs in 'disgusting conditions' contaminated by faeces and urine.

Newcombe's vile treatment of the dogs, which included Dachshunds, Labradors and French Bulldogs, was so extreme that RSCPA officials said it was 'amongst the worst [they] had encountered in 20 years'. 

Officers even found a dead dog in a van and a number of decomposing puppies outside. 

Newcombe denied one offence under the Animal Welfare Act but was found guilty of not ensuring the needs of the animals were met.

District judge Sophie Toms said she would struggle to forget the images shown during the trial which she labelled 'disgusting.' 

Newcombe, 42, has been banned from keeping dogs for five years.

A sentencing hearing at Newport Magistrates Court on Thursday October 27 heard that Gwent Police attended Newcombe's property on September 1, 2020 where they found 90 dogs whose condition gave officers 'serious cause for concern.' 

James Harris, prosecuting, said officials from the RSPCA attended and removed the dogs and found 78 of them had no access to water when they were seized.

Mr Harris said 78 dogs were also found to be living in an 'entirely unsuitable environment'. 

Describing the scene RSPCA officers came across, he said there were 'faeces all over the place' and that the smell in the property was described as 'absolutely disgusting', adding that a number of the dogs required treatment by a vet in the days after they were seized.

As well as the live animals, Mr Harris said a dead dog was found in a van outside the house while a number of decomposing puppies were also discovered during the raid. 

He said Newcombe had been 'unaware' of the puppies and added that prosecutors had been unable to determine whether the case of one dog which died days after being removed had been due to Newcombe's treatment.

District judge Sophie Toms said she had taken account of Newcombe's difficult circumstances in the lead up to the offences being committed but added that she would struggle to forget the 'disgusting conditions' of the animals and house shown in court during the trial. 

She disagreed that Newcombe had 'had no control' over the keeping of the dogs and said she 'could have called for help.' 

She said the difficulties faced by animal welfare workers in removing the dogs was an aggravating factor but conceded that the defendant had 'found herself in the most desperate of situations' and had shown genuine attempts to rebuild her life including enrolling in education.

Ms Toms banned Newcombe, from Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent, from being involved in the keeping of dogs for five years. She can apply for a review after 12 months. 

She also imposed a 12-month community order requiring Newcombe to complete 20 days of women-specific programmes, and she must also pay costs of £1,000 towards the prosecution.