Council officers and the Metropolitan Police removed the animals from a property in Colne Avenue on 4th December 2018, following concerns about animal welfare and unlicensed dog breeding at the address.
Upon executing a search warrant, the officers, accompanied by a vet, discovered a ground floor room with tiered animal cages from floor to ceiling. The cages contained Russian Blue cats and kittens, and were so small that the animals had no space to run, jump, climb, stand on their hind legs, nor hide if they felt threatened by people or dogs.
In the same room, two pens constructed from metal barriers contained Pug and French Bulldog puppies. The newspaper on the floor of the pens was wet and covered with faeces, and there was a powerful, overwhelming smell of dogs, faeces and urine.
In the garden, officers found a fenced-off area that contained a complex of buildings including a large wooden outbuilding where more Russian Blue cats were held in cages that were cramped, dirty and cluttered. The building itself was in urgent need of repair and there was evidence of rodent infestation.
Officers also found a series of kennels in the garden, where the only bedding was cardboard boxes. Only one outdoor exercise area for the dogs offered some shelter from the weather, while another had direct access to the nearby river with no barrier to prevent the dogs from falling into the water. None of the pens contained sufficient toys for the dogs.
The vet concluded that the animals’ welfare needs were not being met due to the general conditions in which they were housed – a lack of space, poor cleanliness and insufficient facilities – and that they were suffering or likely to suffer if their circumstances did not change. As a result, the animals were removed and taken into the care of the council.
In September 2019, a judge at Ealing Magistrates’ Court granted the council permanent possession of the animals. An appeal against the decision was withdrawn earlier this month and the animals have now been permanently rehomed.
Cllr John Riley, Hillingdon Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Safety and Transport, said: “It is heartbreaking to think of these animals being exposed to such cramped and unhygienic conditions. They couldn’t exercise or exhibit normal behaviour, nor were they protected from pain, suffering, injury, or disease. It was only right that we should step in to safeguard their wellbeing and find them happy, loving homes with new owners.
“Let this result be a warning to anyone who thinks they can disregard the welfare of animals.”
On Tuesday 6 April 2021, Galyna Khudyakova and Volodymyr Tymoshenko, each pleaded guilty to two animal licensing offences at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court. The offences related to the sale of pets and the breeding of puppies – both of which require a licence in Hillingdon. Khudyakova and Tymoshenko, who were prosecuted by Hillingdon Council, were each ordered to pay £24,150 (£4,500 for each offence, £15,000 prosecution costs and a £150 victim surcharge). In total, they must pay £48,300.
In civil proceedings in September 2019, they were ordered to pay the council costs totalling £207,738.15. They withdrew their appeal on Thursday 22 April 2021 and agreed to pay a further £75,000 in costs. The total council costs, which must be paid in full by December 2022, are £282,738.15.