RSPCA: Would-be pocket bully breeders banned from owning dogs for neglecting sick pups

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One pocket bully puppy was suffering from a severe skin condition, while another had a painful and infected prolapse

Warning: Story contains graphic photos and content which may be distressing.

A Yorkshire couple who planned to get a dog breeding licence have instead been banned from keeping them for five years - after they neglected two sick pocket bullies in their care.

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Andrew Leefe, 45, and Louise Reynolds, 39, had both earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to provide vet care. One charge involved a young pocket bully called Nation who had a prolapsed vagina, while the other involved a pocket bully puppy called Rose who was left with a severe skin condition. The pair both received a five-year dog ban at a hearing at Bradford Magistrates Court last Thursday (15 February), and both were also given 12-month community orders.

The court heard the pair had earlier applied for a dog breeding licence. The dogs removed from their care were pocket bullies - a smaller variant of the American bully breed - with now banned XL bullies being the largest variant. The RSPCA brought the prosecution after a dog warden visited the couple’s home in December 2022 and removed one of the pocket bullies, Nation, because she had an untreated vaginal prolapse.

Little Rose was suffering severe mange when she was removed from the property. Picture: RSPCA/SuppliedLittle Rose was suffering severe mange when she was removed from the property. Picture: RSPCA/Supplied
Little Rose was suffering severe mange when she was removed from the property. Picture: RSPCA/Supplied | RSPCA

In a statement to the court, RSPCA inspector Demi Hodby - who attended the vet surgery where the warden had taken the dog - said: “Nation was a female brown and tan merle pocket bully. She had a large prolapse hanging out her back end which was red and swollen. It looked as though this had been exposed for some time as it was infected and oozing. She was unable to sit and appeared very uncomfortable.”

The vet said Nation weighed just 13kg and was underweight, and had multiple skin lesions both old and new - as well as wounds consistent with bites and scratches from other dogs. She also had a three-inch prolapse of the vagina, which was infected and had been present for two to three weeks. She received corrective surgery at an RSPCA animal hospital.

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Leefe and Reynolds repeatedly denied Nation was their dog, and claimed she belonged to a friend who would not give them any money to treat her, despite them noticing the prolapse weeks earlier. But just days later, Inspector Hodby and the dog warden visited their Bradford home again - and found another pocket bully in need of urgent vet care.

The older bully, Nation, needed surgery after suffering a painful, infected prolapse. Picture: RSPCA/SuppliedThe older bully, Nation, needed surgery after suffering a painful, infected prolapse. Picture: RSPCA/Supplied
The older bully, Nation, needed surgery after suffering a painful, infected prolapse. Picture: RSPCA/Supplied | rspca

They removed Rose, a six to seven-month-old puppy, from the property. She had severe demodex mange, which Reynolds claimed she had been treating with an antibacterial wash. The court was told Rose had been seen during the dog warden’s previous visit on December 6 and Reynolds had been told to take her to a vet within 24 hours, but failed to do so. The puppy was taken to the RSPCA’s Greater Manchester Animal Hospital for immediate treatment, where she was also found to be underweight - and ate food ravenously when it was offered to her. 

In written evidence to the court, the vet who examined her said: “Rose’s skin was in a bad condition with generalised hair loss, redness and inflammation - mainly on the limbs, back, both sides of the body, abdomen and head - as well as multiple scabs and areas of skin thickening which occurs after prolonged periods of rubbing and scratching. There was a severe yeasty smell, inflamed skin in the areas between the toes on every limb and signs of nail bed infections on her hind limbs.”

In their evidence, the vets said both dogs required treatment which hadn’t been sought. Nation had likely been suffering from the prolapse for three weeks, while Rose’s skin condition would have been developing for at least four weeks, but likely longer, and her poor body condition was the result of being on an inappropriate diet for several months.

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The court heard that during an interview with inspector Hodby, Reynolds accepted responsibility for Rose but denied she was the owner and wanted the dog back. Both defendants had previously told the inspector they had applied to the council for a dog breeding licence, although Leefe later said this had been put on hold.

In mitigation, Leefe told the court neither dog belonged to him and finances were tight. He accepted there had been neglect but said the animals helped with his wife’s mental health. Reynolds, who was said to have primary responsibility for the dogs, said she "sought sanctuary" with animals and they had a therapeutic effect on her.

Nation made a full recovery and was cared for by the RSPCA’s Southport, Ormskirk & District Branch, from where she was rehomed. Rose was looked after by the charity’s Halifax, Huddersfield, Bradford & District Branch and has also been adopted. After the sentence, other dogs at the defendants’ home will now also need to be rehomed.