Crufts champion banned from keeping animals for life


A decorated Crufts champion has been banned from keeping animals for life – after the RSPCA found animals living in ”filthy and horrible” squalor at her kennels.

Crufts champion banned from keeping animals for life

Registered trainer Rachel Mortimore, 57, has scooped more than 40 prizes at the top dog show with her collection of Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers (Tollers).

She was also a member of the British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers and charged owners £30 per hour for one-to-one training sessions at her kennels.

But when RSPCA officers stormed her premises, Foxdown Dog Training Centre in Devon, they were horrified to discover hundreds of animals kept in ”unbelievable” conditions.

They found 300 animals ranging from horses to chickens – including one of her prized dogs which had been so neglected it had a hole in its jaw.

Mortimore – who had been keeping animals for 25 years – pleaded guilty to two counts of animal cruelty at Taunton Magistrates Court in Somerset on Wednesday.

Magistrates banned her from keeping animals for life and ordered that she complete 140 hours of community service.

Speaking after the hearing, horrified RSPCA officer Claire Ryder described the suffering of the animals as ”unbelievable”.

She said: ”This woman was supposed to love her dog and had it for 12 years and left it with a hole in its face.

”The other animals were living in filthy horrible conditions.”

Crufts champion banned from keeping animals for life

Mortimore charged owners £10 per night to look after their dogs at her kennels in Culmhead, near Taunton, Somerset.

In the 2010 Crufts dog show, Mortimore collected a handful of prizes – including first place in the Veteran Bitch category for Tollers, for her dog Foxdown Ambila.

She also won third place for Veteran Dog for her pooch Lyonhouse Basil, a prize for Special Puppy – Bitch for her puppy Threegraves Driftwood and reserve in the Open – Bitch category for Foxdown My Fair Lady.

Mortimore has been competiting in Crufts since 2002 and has scooped prizes each year since then, totally more than 40 over the eight years.

She also works as a dog breeder, selling Toller puppies for £750, and has the largest breeding kennel in the country for the breed.

Crufts champion banned from keeping animals for life

Taunton Magistrates Court heard how Mortimore had taken in too many rescue animals after owners kepts bringing them to her as a result of the economic downturn.

She was too kind-hearted to turn any away and her premises became overstocked, her defence team claimed.

RSPCA officers visited her kennels in November and were stunned to discover the animals crammed into dirty cages and in appalling squalor.

They found one dog with a hole in its jaw and a cat which had an ulcer in its eye and seized them immediately to look after them.

In court, the RSPCA argued that the video proved Mortimore was not a fit person to keep animals.

Magistrates agreed and banned her from keeping animals for life but this cannot be implemented as Mortimore is to appeal to a higher court.

Mortimore refused to comment as she left the hearing.


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