Animal charity manager on cruelty charges

Stuart Ford.

Stuart Ford. - Credit: Archant

Stuart Ford of North Devon charity the SPRA appears before magistrates in Barnstaple over 11 alleged offences.

THE manager of a North Devon Animal rescue charity has appeared at magistrates court in Barnstaple on Friday charged with animal cruelty.

Stuart Ford, 52, of 83 Castle Gardens in Torrington who runs the Society for the Protection and Rehoming of Animals (SPRA), is accused of 11 offences under the Animal Welfare Act over a period between 2009 and August 2012.

It is alleged he failed to provide a suitable environment for dogs and cats, which were kept in a garden shed with inadequate natural lighting and ventilation.

He is also charged with suspending a West Highland terrier dog off the ground with a leash by its neck, as well as forcibly dragging a West Highland terrier from a grooming table by its neck, causing it to land on its back, before it was whipped and verbally abused.

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It is alleged he used a stick to strike the sides of pens in which dogs were kept, causing unnecessary suffering or fear.

He is also charged with penning dogs in cages for extensive periods, jabbing dogs with a stick and using a make-shift pulley system in a shed used to house dogs to silence the animals.

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It is alleged he did not provide a safe environment for a cat after it was found dead hanging by its leg in a cage.

One charge relates to him allegedly using a check chain to forcible yank a border terrier by its neck. Another alleges he did the same to a Dalmatian and then struck the animal with his hand.

Another alleges he failed to provide a suitable environment after a cat cage was placed on top of a dog cage.

Mr Ford did not enter a plea and the case has been adjourned until Friday, March 8.

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