A FATHER and daughter who were convicted of animal welfare offences in relation to a doggy day care centre have been banned from holding animal activity licences.

Lauren and John Walker were sentenced at Blackpool Magistrates Court following the emergence of videos on social media, taken by a former employee, showing John Walker abusing dogs in his care at Mucky Pups Doggy Day Care Centre in Rishton in December 2019.

One video appeared to show John Walker picking a dog up by the scruff of its neck, beating it and throwing it across the floor, while the dog can be heard whimpering and crying.

In another, Walker appeared to hit one dog with a broom, while another video showed him smacking a dog with his hand.

Burnley Magistrates Court previously heard how the day care business for pets was run by Lauren and she employed her father to work at the centre.

Hyndburn Council revoked Mucky Pups’ licence in February 2020, and the RSPCA carried out a full investigation into the abuse.

Following months of adjournments, the Walkers were finally sentenced on Tuesday after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing in August 2021.

Lauren Walker, 31, of Knowles Street, Rishton, had admitted failing to take steps to ensure the needs of an animal was met by failing to prevent John Walker using inappropriate force.

She received a community order, was placed on electronic curfew for five weeks, meaning she must be present at an address in Chatburn between the hours of 7pm and 7am, was told to comply with 15 days of rehabilitation activity, fined a total of £290 including costs, and was disqualified from holding an animal activity licence for five years.

John Walker, 69, had pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to protected animals, namely seven dogs by the inappropriate use of physical force, between September 10 2019 and November 19 2019 and failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the needs of the animals were met between August 1 2019 and December 18 2019. 

He was also made subject of a community order, told to complete 10 days of rehabilitation activity, placed on electronic curfew for 26 weeks, and ordered to pay a total of £290 in costs.

Walker Snr, of Greenhill in Great Harwood, was disqualified from holding an animal activity licence for 10 years.

Under new laws, animal boarding businesses including home boarders and day carers, dog breeders, pet shops and riding establishments have to hold an animal activity licence.

RSPCA Inspector Adam Dickinson, who led the investigation, told the court how following the videos appearing on social media and reports in the Lancashire Telegraph the owners of the dogs shown on camera came forward to provide witness statements.

An independent vet, who studied the footage said: “An adult male member of staff can be seen interacting with the dogs on a number of occasions. In some of the videos the adult male can be seen to physically strike a number of dogs with his hand.

“In the first video for example the adult male individual restrains a black Labrador type dog by holding the dog’s collar with his left hand while he strikes the dog three times with his right hand. The dog vocalises and the male throws the dog away using the collar. The body language of the dog is fearful submission with no aggression.

“In my opinion the actions of the adult male individual have been sufficiently influential on the welfare of some of these animals to the extent that has caused them to experience suffering.”

Following the sentencing, Inspector Dickinson said the case highlighted how important reward based training is for dogs.

He said: “The RSPCA only promotes positive, reward-based training methods and does not condone this sort of behaviour in order to train dogs or to tell them off.

“Training dogs is important to help them learn to behave appropriately and to make it easier to keep them under control.

“Training which includes physical punishment may cause pain, suffering and distress. These techniques can compromise dog welfare, lead to aggressive responses and worsen the problems they aim to address.”