A man who admitted causing suffering to dogs fraudulently brought into the UK has been handed a suspended jail term. Attila Kovacs, 43, whose address was given as Two Mile Hill Road in Kingswood, pleaded guilty to multiple charges of causing an animal to suffer in June 2021.
He also admitted failing to ensure the welfare of a French Bulldog called Lola and importing, breeding and selling dogs without a licence issued by the local authority between December 2019 and June 2021. Judge James Patrick handed him a 24-month prison sentence suspended for 21 months.
He told married father-of-three Kovacs, who struggles with literacy and depression: "This is your chance. You are not going to get another one. If you and I meet again you can expect to go through the brown door behind you." Kovacs was given 150 hours' unpaid work.
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Lee Reynolds, prosecuting, told Bristol Crown Court: "The defendant was engaged in an unlawful trade involving the importation and sale of puppies between December 2019 and June 2021. The puppies were transported from abroad in appalling conditions and often at a time when they were heavily pregnant.
"When they reached his home, he would keep them in poor conditions such that they had very little light, kept in small cages in a poor condition with dangers surrounding them. The animals were allowed to develop medical conditions and suffer unnecessarily.
"He did not obtain veterinary advice when he clearly ought to. He attempted to conceal his criminal actions through the use of accounts and addresses held in the name of others. Had he applied for a licence to breed he would not have received one such was his lack of care and the poor conditions."
Mr Reynolds said the charges related to the unlawful trade over a considerable period and the conditions in which seven animals were found during a visit to an address in Stanley Road, Warmley, on June 29, June 2021. He told the court Kovacs' offending was aggravated because he was the subject of a Criminal Behaviour Order imposed in 2016 following a case involving illegality with regards to the trading and keeping of dogs.
The court heard Kovacs' activities came to the authorities' attention when they linked him to the importation of five dogs in poor condition in 2019. A search of the Warmley property linked to him uncovered dogs kept in a shipping container in squalid conditions.
Mr Reynolds said: "Mr Kovacs unlocked the shipping container and the officers and veterinarian entered. Within the locked shipping container were a total of seven dogs in four cages situated at the rear of the container.
"There was also a larger cage just inside the door, which was empty. Attila Kovacs advised that this is where the Rottweiler was kept.
"The cage measured 108cm wide, by 74cm high, by 76cm deep. There was no food, water, or bedding present in the cage.
"When the door was opened it was very dark within the container. Officers tried the light switch, but nothing happened. They were met with a strong smell of stale faeces and urine.
"There were three small windows, two of which were covered with wood panels and one which was very slightly open. These windows provided very little ventilation and very little natural light.
"There were three ‘fly-strips’ hanging from the ceiling, all which were completely covered with dead flies. The floor of the container was scattered with loose rat bait and there were several holes in the floor of the container, where it met the walls."
Dogs within the container were found to have infections to their ears and eyes, the court heard. Though they had been caused suffering, fortunately all were treatable and survived. Kovacs made no comment when interviewed.
Matthew Comer, defending, said his client had mild learning difficulties and struggled with literacy both in Hungarian and English. Mr Comer said Kovacs had tried to make a legal way of making money for his family and his wife suffered from regular seizures.
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