Animal charity manager pleads not guilty to cruelty charges

Stuart Ford.

Stuart Ford. - Credit: Archant

Stuart Ford of Torrington based SPRA at North Devon Magistrates today (Friday).

THE manager of a Torrington based animal rescue charity has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of animal cruelty.

Stuart Ford, 52, who runs the Society for the Protection and Rehoming of Animals (SPRA), appeared before magistrates in Barnstaple today (Friday).

Magistrates adjourned proceedings and Mr Ford was ordered to reappear before them on Friday, April 5 at 3pm for a case management hearing. He was represented in court today by duty solicitor Jen Law.

He is charged with offences under the animal welfare act that are alleged to have been committed over a period between 2009 and August 2011.

Mr Ford, of 83 Castle Hill Gardens, Torrington, was charged with failing to provide a suitable environment for dogs and cats, which were kept in a garden shed with inadequate natural lighting and ventilation.

He was 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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The court heard he used a stick to strike the sides of pens in which dogs were kept, causing unnecessary suffering or fear.

He was 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.

It was 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 related to him allegedly using a check chain to forcibly yank a border terrier by its neck. Another alleged he did the same to a dalmatian and then struck the animal with his hand.

He was also charged with failing to provide a suitable environment after a cat cage was placed on top of a dog cage.

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