lurcher chained to kennel

A man has been disqualified from dealing in dogs after 23 were found in poor conditions at a pig farm in North Yorkshire.

James Featon of Roughaw Road, Skipton, was due to stand trial this week at York Magistrates’ Court but entered guilty pleas to three offences of causing unnecessary suffering to dogs.  

RSPCA officers and North Yorkshire Police visited an old pig farm in North Duffield, near Selby, on 7 October last year where two adult dogs and 21 puppies were found living in pig pens.

A Lurcher inside the kennel
Photo: RSPCA

RSPCA Inspector Alice Cooper, who led the investigation, said, “Some of the puppies were in very poor condition; thin and lethargic with swollen, distended abdomens. Three Jack Russell terrier puppies had collapsed.

Police seized all of the dogs and we rushed them to the vets where a number of the pups were diagnosed with parvovirus – a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease.

They were all hospitalised and needed intensive veterinary treatment but, unfortunately, we lost four because they were so incredibly poorly.”

Three puppies found at the puppy dealer's premise
Photo: RSPCA
Photo: RSPCA

The eighteen others dogs – a mix of spaniels, lurchers and crossbreeds – were taken in by RSPCA centres whilst the investigation continued.

Inspector Cooper added, “Our investigations established that Mr Featon was buying in dogs from Ireland and elsewhere in England, and then selling them on to the public.

“However, he was keeping the dogs in disgusting conditions and had categorically failed to provide veterinary care to those that had fallen ill.”

Featon was fined £130, ordered to pay costs of £300 and a victim surcharge of £30 and was disqualified from dealing in dogs.

However, Featon can still own dogs as pets and the court returned two adult pet lurchers to him.

Emaciated puppy
Photo: RSPCA

PC Sarah Ward of North Yorkshire Police said, “I’m very pleased with the result and thankful that we found the puppies when we did, saving them from more suffering. They were kept in cold, damp conditions without their mums and most of them were very ill with a number needing urgent veterinary attention. Sadly, some did not make it.

We urge members of the public to only ever buy puppies from reputable dog breeders or adopt a rescue dog from a known charity.”

The dogs have now been signed over and can be rehomed. They will be available after Christmas.

Rescued puppy receiving treatment
Photo: RSPCA
Rescued puppy receiving treatment
Photo: RSPCA

“Unfortunately this sort of thing is something we see all too often at the RSPCA,” Inspector Cooper added. “Breeding and selling puppies is big business and with certain breeds selling for hundreds if not thousands of pounds there are a lot of people trying to cash in.

Sadly, some sellers like Mr Featon will put profits ahead of the health and welfare of the dogs. This is completely unacceptable.

We’d urge anyone thinking of getting a dog to consider rescuing from a charity such as the RSPCA. We have thousands of dogs in our centres this Christmas waiting for new homes.”

For more information on rehoming, visit

Related articles:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here