Chester woman's appeal against sentence for animal licensing offence is heard in court

30 May 2019

A Chester woman previously found guilty of looking after animals illegally after a dog died in her care, appealed against her sentence on Friday last week.

Claire Langford (46), of Plemstall Lane, Mickle Trafford pleaded guilty in April to keeping an animal boarding establishment without a licence, and was also found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal following a trial at Chester Magistrates Court.

Four-year old Shi-Tzu, Blu, died from injuries after being attacked by a Boxer dog after Langford failed to seek veterinary treatment.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Animal Health officers investigated the case and prosecuted Langford on their findings.

Langford was fined £2,500, given a 12 month community order and a six month curfew, stating she must remain in her house between 7am and 7pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

She was also told that she would not be able to open an animal boarding business for 10 years.

Following sentencing on 30 April, Langford submitted an appeal against both her conviction and sentence. Langford withdrew her appeal against conviction two days before the appeal hearing.

Appealing against her sentence, Langford claimed that the event was a one-off and that she was not operating a commercial enterprise, but this was rejected by the appeal judge.

During the appeal the judge said: “It must have been transparent this dog was poorly, you had received training. This dog suffered on any view serious and fatal injuries, and would have been displaying signs of ill health and distress.”

And referring to a recording of a phone conversation with a veterinary receptionist heard in court, he commented:
“It’s not simply a case of you not noticing the injury. This is a bad case. We heard the calm tone with which you spoke to the receptionist. She was far more upset than you were, for a dog you’d been paid to look after.”

Taking into account Langford’s financial situation, the judge reduced the total amount payable by deleting the costs ordered.  The curfew was also reduced to one month and the curfew times altered.

The Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Councillor Karen Shore said: “Licences are needed to ensure animals are kept safe from the risk of harm in appropriate conditions.  The authority will not tolerate unlicensed businesses and this very sad case shows how things can go tragically wrong without the proper processes in place.  We will take action against businesses who put animals at risk.” 

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