A man who bred XL bullies has been sent to prison after an RSPCA investigation found the decomposing bodies of two dogs in outdoor kennels – and five further dogs in kennels surrounded by faeces and no food or water.
Lee Rajas aged 31, of Southfield Terrace, Bradford, was sentenced at Bradford Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 6 July. He had been found guilty in his absence of three Animal Welfare Act offences at an earlier hearing.
Magistrates handed him an immediate 18-week prison sentence, in addition to a lifetime ban on keeping animals and ordered him to pay a victim surcharge of £154.28.
The court heard that, on 10 October last year, an RSPCA inspector attended Rajas’s previous address at Tyersal Walk, Bradford, with police – where they observed the garden as “full of faeces”.
In a statement presented to the court, RSPCA inspector Joanne Taylor said: “I could smell faeces whilst still in the house … The garden was full of faeces. Two bags of faeces were split open and the contents spilled out onto the floor by the patio doors.
“In the middle of the yard, there were 15 bags of faeces and dirty bedding piled up. There was also a pile of faeces in the middle of the garden and another pile by the wall on the right-hand side of the garden.”
There were six kennels in the property, with four of them holding five live dogs – three XL bullies, a French bulldog and one British bulldog – and each kennel had faeces on the floor, empty food and water bowls and soiled bedding. In the other two kennels, of which there were a large number of flies inside, were two dead dogs – each in an advanced stage of decomposition.
In inspector Taylor’s statement, she added: “The body [of the first dead dog] was pressed up against a pressure washer and was in such a state of decomposition that the skin had slipped off exposing the muscle covering the skull, hips and rear leg. I could see the ribs, spine and hip bones.
“[The second dead dog] was in a more advanced state of decomposition. There was no fur on the skin. I could see the ribs, spine and hips. There were maggots in two main areas over the skull and back end but there were maggots present over the whole body.
“The body looked like it had begun to melt into the floor.”
At the side of the property was an advertisement for Raja’s XL bully social media pages – where he posted photos of the dogs he bred.
The surviving dogs were taken to a vet for a check-up before being taken into RSPCA care.
The court heard that two days later, inspector Taylor returned to the property to arrange an interview with Rajas, and on arrival, Rajas approached her van and commented: “The conditions aren’t too bad to be honest they are okay.”
In his interview with the RSPCA, Rajas stated that the two dead dogs had died from parvo virus the day before the RSPCA visited, that he owned three of the dogs and the remaining four had belonged to family members but he’d taken responsibility for them three weeks prior to the RSPCA’s visit.
In court, the RSPCA’s prosecuting solicitor said that this was a case of “high culpability and greater harm leading ultimately to the death of two dogs” and that there was evidence to suggest that Rajas had been breeding dogs.
In mitigation, Rajas’s defence solicitor said that there was “very little that could be said in mitigation other than he stood by the fact that his dogs were in good condition”.
Of the five surviving dogs, three have been signed over into RSPCA care, one has been returned to their previous owner and one dog was sadly put to sleep on health grounds after suffering from a burst stomach tumour.
Following the conclusion of the case, investigating RSPCA inspector Adam Dickinson said: “This is a distressing case which saw seven dogs living in unhygienic and unsuitable conditions – it is a basic welfare need to provide water and food to dogs and to ensure that they are living in a suitable environment.
“We will never know for certain why two of the dogs had died – it is very sad that in their final days they were living in such terrible conditions.
“Anyone who keeps pets should ensure that their needs are met at all times, of which a suitable living environment and access to clean, fresh drinking water are imperative for their welfare.”