A FARMER who kept 37 dogs, including 22 puppies, in appalling conditions has been banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

Paul Alton, 51, kept the animals in a ‘faeces-ridden’ static caravan, littered with tins, cans and rubbish, Burnley magistrates heard.

The court was told he neglected to ‘provide the proper care’ to his dogs at Trice Barn Farm, Bacup, and was breeding them with the intention to sell.

RSPCA inspector Nina Small said the conditions were terrible.

Some of the dogs - including Terriers, Collies and Alsatians - were found inside a squalid barn with faeces, plastic bags and straw strewn across the floor.

One of the dogs was found to have a bleeding stumped hind left leg after it was injured in a tractor accident a few years ago.

RSPCA officials were called to the farm after Alton was arrested last April for a string of firearm offences, including having a home-made pistol.

Christopher Wyatt, who represented the animal welfare charity in court, said that RSPCA inspector Nina Small saw the dogs in ‘squalid’ conditions in the buildings and also saw a dog climbing on top of a dead cow next to the stables.

Dad-of-two Alton changed his plea to guilty ahead of the court hearing on Tuesday and was banned from keeping dogs for 10 years.

He has also been banned from transporting dogs, attempting to sell dogs or being party to any transaction or transportation.

The court heard how the RSPCA officer visited the farm on April 23 last year and was shown around the outlying buildings.

Mr Wyatt said that there had been no proper resting area for the animals and that the conditions were ‘completely unsuitable’ for dogs and their puppies.

Michael Lea, defending, said Alton claimed the conditions were not like that when he had left the farm four days previously after he was arrested on firearms charges.

Police were called to the farm last April after he assaulted his wife of 15 years and she told police about firearms at the premises.

He was jailed for 30 months last December after admitting possessing a prohibited weapon, a .22 pistol, pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife Kim Alton, possessing a 12 gauge shotgun without a certificate and possessing ammunition - two .22 bulleted rifle cartridges - without a firearms certificate.

Sentencing, magistrate Irene Devine said: “Aside from the harm that you will have caused your dogs you must think of the health risks that you will have subjected your children to. This disqualification will stop you dealing with dogs for a long time.”

Speaking after the case, Inspector Small said: “They were conditions that no animal should have to be placed in and they were absolutely appalling.

"I’m really pleased about the disqualification and it’s good that he will not be able to appeal for five years.

“The conditions that the dogs were subjected to were terrible and I hope that this decision will deter him and others from ever doing anything like this again."