A Ponteland livestock dealer who transported sheep that were determined to be not fit for moving has been fined.
Jeffrey Thomas Dunn moved 14 sheep, which were later found to have either foot rot, suspected mastitis or arthritis – with all but one lame.
The 57-year-old has now been prosecuted by Durham County Council and he was made to pay £4,367.40 by Darlington magistrates.
The court heard how Dunn transported 34 sheep from the farm where he lives to an abattoir at Spennymoor on March 6 last year.
On inspecting the sheep the next day, a vet from the Meat Hygiene Service believed 14 of the animals were unfit to travel.
Three were suffering foot rot, one from what the vet suspected was mastitis and the others from varying degrees of arthritis.
Thirteen of them were lame and unable to walk on all four limbs. Specimens were sent to the Animal and Plant Health Agency for examination.
The vet there said the conditions present in the 14 sheep would cause them pain, discomfort and unnecessary suffering and they should not have been transported.
Dunn, who pleaded not guilty, told the court he had bought a vehicle with purpose-built ploughman’s box and hydraulic deck in order to transport the animals safely, with ample space, in October 2015.
He believed they were all fit to travel and said he would not have taken any animals that were not.
Magistrates found Dunn guilty and fined him £2,500, with a victim surcharge of £120 and costs of £1,747.40.
Speaking after the case, Durham County Council’s head of environment, health and consumer protection, Joanne Waller said: “This case involved animals that a vet found to be experiencing pain, discomfort and unnecessary suffering, with some having had infections for a number of weeks.
“Animal health and welfare laws state sheep in such condition should not be transported and yet Mr Dunn potentially added to their suffering by moving them.”