Cambo shepherd banned from keeping dogs
A shepherd has been banned from keeping dogs after starving his three border collies.
William Graham Cowen, 54, was supposed to be looking after the dogs but left them filthy and emaciated.
Magistrates yesterday banned the ex-farmer from keeping dogs for three years, though he is still free to tend his flock of sheep.
Cowen, of Rochester, near Otterburn, in Northumberland, owned three border collies - Meg, Katie and Fly - to help him with his work at Scarlett Farm in Cambo, Northumberland.
But when RSPCA Inspector Ian Smith visited the farm last August he found one dog tied to a silage cutter with no kennel. She was lying in her own waste with only the cutter for shelter. Another two female dogs were in filthy runs covered in faeces and urine.
Cowen was not present at the time, but when Inspector Smith returned to the farm a month later, he found two dogs still in the stinking runs, with the third tethered to a wall by a short chain.
The animals were taken to a vet and found to be suffering from malnutrition, with protruding bones and matted, unkept coats.
All three dogs were signed over to the RSPCA, but Meg had to be put down due old age. Katie has been re-homed and Fly has put on weight. Cowen - who had owned the farm until he got into financial difficulties - admitted causing unnecessary suffering by failing to investigate and address the animals' poor body condition and weight loss.
In his defence, David Auld told South East Northumberland Magistrates that his client had lost the family farm after suffering financial problems.
He now works there for minimal pay, looking after the sheep, and lives in a small cottage.
Cowen also went through a bitter divorce some years ago, the court heard, and developed mental health problems after the breakdown of another relationship.
Mr Auld said: "Anyone who knows Mr Cowen will be very shocked to know about this prosecution.
"This is a man who has worked with animals since he was 14. His father and his grandfather owned the farm.
"He looks after a flock of 4,500 sheep and there has never been any problems in his work with the sheep.
"He has 40 years of unblemished record with animals. He just let things slip."
Mr Auld added: "All the farming community in the area know about this. He is thoroughly ashamed of what has happened."
Cowen was sentenced to a 12-month community order, including 80 hours of unpaid work. He was banned from keeping dogs for three years, and is not allowed to apply to have that ban lifted for at least two years.
But he is free to keep other animals and continue looking after the flock of sheep.
We'd like to hear from you. Send your stories, pics and videos to email@example.com