Fears pets may go after appeal fails

This Is Wiltshire: John Warwick John Warwick

AN ANIMAL sanctuary boss banned from keeping animals says he still doesn't know what he can and can’t do.

John Warwick-Huckvale was speaking after failing in an appeal against an order allowing the council to seize animals from his land.

The 55-year-old, who runs the Swindon and District Animal Haven, near Royal Wootton Bassett, fears pets and other people’s animals could be taken and put down.

He said he has people living in caravans on his farm who have cats and dogs and his children have pets he worries may be taken away.

The father-of-six asked Swindon Crown Court to give him clarity so he knew what he was allowed to do under orders imposed on him in 2011 and earlier this year.

But Judge Euan Ambrose, sitting with two magistrates, told him they could not provide legal advice – only rule on his appeal.

After he was convicted of cruelty he was banned from owning and keeping livestock for 10 years and domestic animals, apart from named family pets, for four years.

He also must not 'participate in the keeping of animals' or 'be party to an arrangement under which he is entitled to control or influence the way in which animals are kept'.

After a failed appeal against the bans, he said he would take the matter further, but he has not, and it is now too late to go to a higher court. In January he was convicted of breaching them and magistrates imposed an order for seizure of animals in connection with disqualification.

At the latest hearing the judge said they could not interfere with the ban and were not minded to change the seizure order, aside from making two more family dogs exempt.

Speaking afterwards Warwick-Huckvale, who has run the sanctuary at Ballards Ash for 16 years, said: “It doesn’t really tell me a lot. I didn’t get clarification.

“They have cleared my own pets but we are going to have to take legal advice. At the moment we can't trade.

“Can I still talk on the phone about someone's animal and pass them on to another? I have still got no clarification of what I can do and can't do.

“If people phone I pass them on to our volunteers. It is heart breaking. People have to go and put animals down.

“I may have got a bit attached to a pig and not put it down when I was supposed to. It has all gone pear shaped.”

He said he also referred people to the council, but feared they did not do enough to care for the animals.“We have re-housed 20,000 cats and dogs in the past 16 years and helped out over 150,000 people,” he said.

At the hearing the judge varied the order to allow Warwick-Huckvale, of Whitecastle, Toothill, to look after dogs belonging to a son and daughter.

Six months' after the ban started, investigators from the council and RSPCA went to his farm and found he was flouting it. They found five sheep, two goats, two turkeys, cockerels, five chinchillas, seven cats, four kittens, a rabbit and some dogs, when they visited on May 22 last year.

Warwick-Huckvale was not there so they returned the following day where they found four dogs had been kept in the kennels, which had been locked.

The police were also called in when he refused to hand over documentation, including the diary and visitor reports, which they were entitled to see.

They returned a month later and found he had two ponies, one of which was heavily pregnant, on his land in contravention of the ban.

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