Man handed animal ban after neglected puppies found in van at ferry port

The six dogs were discovered covered in faeces and urine in the load space of Stephen McRea's van.

Stephen McRea banned from owning animals after six puppies found in van at Cairnryan ferry port Email

A man who failed to ensure the welfare of six puppies found in a van at a ferry port in Dumfries and Galloway has been banned from owning animals for 15 years.

On Tuesday, Stephen McRea from Belfast was sentenced at Stranraer Sheriff Court after previously pleading guilty to failing to take steps to provide the puppies with food, water or a suitable place to rest while transporting them from Northern Ireland to Scotland.

As well as the ban, the 29-year-old was ordered to carry out 90 hours unpaid work and will be supervised for a year under a community payback order imposed by the court.

The court heard that on December 3, 2020, at Loch Ryan Port, Cairnryan, police stopped a grey Ford Transit Connect van being driven by McRea after it had disembarked from the P&O ferry sailing from Larne Port in Northern Ireland.

Officers noticed a strong, pungent smell of animal urine emanating from the driver’s window and when they asked McRea what he was carrying, he said that he was transporting a “couple of dogs” to a family member in Glasgow.

Police searched the van and found six collie-type puppies in a cage in the load space of the vehicle.

The six puppies were found covered in faeces and urine in the back of McRea's van. Email

The puppies were covered in faeces and urine and the floor of the load space was covered in sawdust, which also had traces of dried faeces. 

Officers found no food or water within the cage or elsewhere in the vehicle.

The puppies were removed from the van before being handed over to the Scottish SPCA to be examined by veterinary staff.

The puppies were all found to be underweight or very thin and the entire litter tested positive for the Parvo virus antigen. Three of the puppies subsequently died.

Following McRea’s sentencing Karon Rollo, head of the wildlife and environmental crime unit of COPFS said: “I welcome the conviction and sentence in this case.

“Stephen McRea’s failure to meeting the most basic needs of these puppies and provide a suitable environment for them while they were his responsibility is wholly unacceptable.

“We are committed to tackling this type of offending and will continue to work with the Scottish SPCA and Police Scotland to ensure that those who commit such crimes face prosecutorial action.”

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