A man found with 44 puppies crammed in cages inside his van has been banned from owning animals for two years after police pursued welfare offences.

A concerned member of the public called police after they had seen puppies being moved between two vans in Charlton Kings, Cheltenham last August.

Gloucestershire Constabulary alerted neighbouring forces and the vehicle was soon brought to a stop by officers on the M6 where the malnourished puppies were discovered on board.

The pups, which were aged between five and eight-weeks-old at the time of rescue, were taken for emergency veterinary care however almost half of them did not survive. 

Patrick Stokes, aged 25 and of Adventure Lane, West Rainton in Durham pleaded guilty to not ensuring the needs to the 44 puppies in his care on 22 August last year.

He was disqualified from owning, keeping, transporting or arranging the transportation of dogs for two years following an appearance at Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court yesterday, Monday 7 June.

Stokes was also sentenced to a 12-month community order to undertake 100 hours unpaid work and to pay court costs and a victim surcharge.

In interview he told police that he had planned to give the puppies to family members and that he was not intending to sell them after the dogs had been transported from Belfast.

Following yesterday’s sentence DCI Claire Nutland said: “These puppies were all in extremely poor health as they were malnourished and sadly a lot of them were not able to be saved after their unnecessary suffering.

“We pursued welfare offences in this case because the conditions in the van were unacceptable and clearly not the right way to transport puppies, which need constant support and care.

“I’d like to again thank the member of the public who called in with their concerns and urge anyone who sees something suspicious such as this to call police immediately.

“A huge thanks must also go to all those who have helped along the way with veterinary care and behaviour training and I’m extremely happy that the other pups are now thriving in their forever homes.”

The 24 surviving puppies, which included beagles, border collies and chihuahua crosses, were nursed back to health.

They were then rehomed within the Gloucestershire Constabulary policing family and those involved in the rescue effort after an outpouring of offers of suitable homes from officers and staff. 

All of them continue to thrive with their owners, although most have had some ongoing health issues. 

One of those rehomed was Norbert who is pictured below. He was saved from the brink of death after spending five days in intensive care.