|John Warwick-Huckvale, Devastated|
“I’VE SPENT 15 years of my life helping animals and people with animals. I just don’t know what I am going to do now.”
These were the words of John Warwick-Huckvale, the devastated owner of the Swindon and District Animal Haven, who will be forced to close his business after being found guilty of four animal welfare offences.
John, who suffers with severe MS, was given a 10-year ban on owning farm animals and a four-year ban on owning domestic animals by district judge Simon Cooper on Friday.
He will not be able to appeal against the sentences for seven years and two years respectively.
The sanctuary was visited by the RSPCA on five separate occasions between November 29 and December 21 last year, with a police accompaniment on the final occasion.
|RSPCA prosecutor Gibney|
But John, who pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and failure to comply with duty in respect of farmed animals, said he was shocked at the severity of the sentences and said his future is currently unclear.
“It was totally unexpected,” he said.
“I expected, possibly, to get banned from having pigs because I did agree and I did plead guilty that I kept him alive too long, but it was only because I got too attached to him.
“We called him Matty, he had dodgy hips, but we gave him medication and he would be fine. But you can’t say I didn’t care for my pigs, they were well looked after.
“One of them called Betty came to me when she was just eight inches long and we had her for 12-and-a-half years.
“I’ve spent 15 years of my life helping animals, and people with animals, and to be done for animal cruelty is just madness. I would never intentionally hurt an animal, ever.”
The 40 to 50 chickens, seven geese, three turkeys, eight guinea fowl, six quail, four sheep, two goats, six dogs, 30 rabbits and 29 cats currently on the farm will now be rehomed, or seized and removed.
John was also sentenced to 60 hours of community service to be completed within a year, and ordered to pay costs of £2,000.
“I have had so many calls from people already who just can’t believe what has happened – everyone is very supportive,” he said.
“All the volunteers are so shocked. Nobody expected it because they all know what goes on here. We always let the public in to see what we are doing, we don’t hide anything.
“My family are so distraught. If the council had somewhere for all these animals I wouldn’t be so concerned but they don’t.
“I am worried because the RSPCA have just 49 spaces for cats. I rehome seventy cats in a month, I just don’t know where they are all going to go.”