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Monday, Nov 1, 2010
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Defendant/Suspect: Rachel Mortimore
As the winner of numerous prizes at Crufts she might have been expected to house her dogs in the best conditions.
But when RSPCA officers raided Rachel Mortimore's kennels they found her pets living in squalor.
They discovered up to 300 animals including horses, cats, chickens, ferrets and rabbits as well as one of her prized dogs which had been so neglected it had a hole in its jaw.
Officers from the charity described the conditions at her dog training centre as 'filthy, horrible and unbelievable'. She has now been banned from keeping animals for life.
Since she began competing at Crufts in 2002, Mortimore, 57, has won more than 40 prizes at the event with her collection of Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, more commonly known as Tollers or Toller retrievers.
They are highly intelligent medium-sized dogs with a rusty brown coat.
As recently as last year's Crufts show, she collected a handful of prizes including first place in the Veteran Bitch category for Tollers, for her dog Foxdown Ambila.
Mortimore also works as a dog breeder, selling Toller puppies for £750, and has the largest breeding kennels in the country for the breed.
But magistrates heard that last November when RSPCA officers visited the kennels, Foxdown Dog Training Centre in Culmhead, near Taunton, Somerset, they discovered animals crammed into dirty cages and living in squalor. They found one dog with a hole in its jaw and a cat which had an ulcer in its eye and seized them immediately to look after them.
In court on Wednesday the RSPCA argued that Mortimore was not a fit person to keep animals. Magistrates in Taunton agreed and banned her from keeping animals for life.
But the ban cannot be implemented yet as Mortimore is to appeal to a higher court.
RSPCA officers will conduct regular checks on the remaining animals.
Mortimore - who has been keeping animals for 25 years - pleaded guilty to two counts of animal cruelty. Magistrates also ordered her to complete 140 hours of community service and told her to pay £1,000 in costs.
After the hearing, RSPCA officer Claire Ryder described the suffering of the animals as 'unbelievable'.
She said: 'This woman was supposed to love her dog and had it for 12 years and left it with a hole in its face. The other animals were living in filthy, horrible conditions.'
Magistrates heard that Mortimore had taken in too many rescue animals after owners kept bringing them to her as a result of the economic downturn. She was too kind-hearted to turn any away and her premises became overstocked, her lawyer said.