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Two Fordingbridge men who dumped five bearded dragons in bin bags at the side of the road have been banned from keeping reptiles for 10 years by Lyndhurst Magistrates Court.
Andrew Bews-Foster (aged 40), of Salisbury Road, and Rodney Bews-Foster (aged 44), of nearby Park Road, previously pleaded guilty to failing to meet the welfare needs of the reptiles, as well as causing them unnecessary suffering. In addition to the 10-year ban, both men were ordered to do 100 hours of community service and to pay costs of £1,113.34 each.
The RSPCA was alerted by a member of the public in April 2009 after the bearded dragons were discovered inside two pink New Forest refuse sacks in a hedge in Whitsbury Road, Fordingbridge. One of the animals had died and the bodies of the other four had begun to shut down due to the cold and dehydration.
When RSPCA animal welfare officer Blackburn collected the dragons she realised that four were still alive and took them to Lynwood Veterinary Centre vet David Holah, who is an expert in exotic animals. He found that the lizards were very thin and dehydrated. He said that their poor condition would have “taken weeks of neglect” and their condition was due to “someone failing to give them even the most basic care.”
Mr Holah continued: “Sixty per cent of the animals I see are exotic pets like these and the problems are usually caused by lack of knowledge on the part of people that take them on.”
AWO Blackburn took the bin bags to Hampshire police who carried out a forensic check for fingerprints and Andrew Bews-Foster was traced by a positive fingerprint match in January 2010.
Sadly another of the bearded dragons had to be put to sleep due to its poor condition, but the other three pulled through with lots of care and attention and were rehomed by the RSPCA.
ACO Blackburn said: “All too often, people take on exotic pets without thoroughly researching the issues and the care they need. They then dump them when they can no longer cope or lose interest – or they become sick due to lack of proper care."
In mitigation, the defendants indicated that they thought the bearded dragons were dead before they were dumped.