FIFTY-THREE pigs are to be killed following a legal call for the formal ownership of more than 200 animals, rescued from a ‘horror farm’ site near Pembroke Dock, which saw horrific scenes of pigs fighting over the carcasses of sheep.

On January 28 and 29, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Animal Health and Welfare Team obtained and executed court warrants at Bramble Hall Farm, Ferry Lane, Pembroke Dock, with the support of other agencies and parties.

A report may be seen here.

In total 53 pigs, 80 sheep, three goats, 58 dogs, 20 horses and one donkey were removed, as supported by veterinary opinion.

All of the animals taken into possession were transported to pre-arranged, safe locations where they have been cared for appropriately, under the control of the Council.

Today, March 7, the council successfully applied to Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court for the forfeiture (permanent confiscation) of animals seized.

The request for the order was made against Sean Burns and others, of Rosehill Lodge, Ferry Lane, Pembroke Dock.

The high-profile hearing had attracted some 20-25 protestors, and some 10 police officers present.

A report of which may be seen here.Previous protests had been held at Bramble Hall.

The March 7 procedure, with Pembrokeshire County Council as an applicant and Sean and Pamela Burns of Bramble Hall, represented by Aled Owen, as respondents, is independent of any potential future criminal proceedings.

After failing to secure a seven-day adjournment, Mr Owen and Mr Burns withdrew from the proceedings under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which Mr Owen had described as “the most draconian piece of legislation,” adding: “the purpose of it is to take property away from third parties.”

He told the court a lack of time in receiving all information relating to the hearing was “against the principle of natural justice”.

Representing PCC, Rhian Young said Bramble Hall Farm had previously been convicted in January 2018 for operating an illegal dog breeding establishment, animal welfare and animal by-product offences.

The 2019 incident saw several visits following an anonymous tip-off of alleged illegal slaughtering of sheep carcasses at the farm to produce ‘smokies’.

“What they found was a number of chained sheep carcasses, with 20 pigs and piglets competing with each other to feed on the carcasses,” Miss Young told the court.

The court heard, and later viewed a video, of the grotesque scene, the feeding pigs on the blood and urine-soaked floor watched by several emaciated sheep penned nearby.

The conditions for other animals also drew concerns, Miss Young said, with horses having little grazing on litter and scrap-filled land, dominant horses the only ones able to access a solitary bale.

Members of the public present were in tears as the court heard dogs were sited in unsanitary and hazardous shed blocks littered with faeces and urine; puppies alive and dead from a fresh litter were found amongst the dogs’ food.

The Pembrokeshire County Council request for a civil order sought for 20 horses and a donkey to be put in the care of the RSPCA, 50 dogs to the Dogs Trust, 80 sheep and three goats to the county council to be sold, and 53 pigs to be destroyed.

The court heard the pigs would have to be destroyed due to them all having access to animal by-products, presenting a risk to public health if they found their way in to the food supply chain.

The application was approved by magistrates, who also accepted two requests for costs against the Burns, from expenses incurred in the investigations, totalling £76,844.29.

After the hearing, a council spokesman said: “We welcome the decision of the magistrates. The order they have made is in the exact terms of the draft order we submitted, including our application for costs.”

The council is continuing to investigate a range of related offences in respect of a number of individuals.

Richard Brown, head of Environmental Services and Public Protection, said: “Please be assured that we are continuing to monitor the welfare of animals that remain on site. Legitimate grounds for believing that the welfare of any animals is compromised will result in further action.”

Despite public animal welfare concerns, Pembrokeshire County Council is unable to prevent any individual from acquiring or keeping animals. Only a court can do that.

If someone has been convicted for an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the court can make an order depriving/disqualifying them from owning, keeping, participating in keeping or controlling or influencing the way animals are kept, transporting or arranging the transportation of animals.

There is nothing stopping animals being brought to a site/kept on site until a disqualification is in place.

A legal statement from Pembrokeshire county council may be seen here.