A 25-year-old man who crammed 44 dogs into small cages in a van during a hot day in August last year -leading to the deaths of 20 of them - has today (June 7th) been banned from owning, keeping or transporting animals for two years.

Cheltenham Magistrates were told today that Patrick Stokes 25, of Adventure Lane, West Rainton, Durham, was stopped on the M6 having set off from Cheltenham en-route to Stoke-on-Trent on August 22 last year with 44 puppies and two adult dogs on board.

When the police stopped the unventilated van the dogs were found to be malnourished and dehydrated.

The 44 puppies were held in 4ft by 3ft crates and all needed immediate emergency veterinary care.

Prosecutor Graham Dono said it was on August 22nd last year that Gloucestershire Police received a call from a member of the public stating that she had seen a litter of puppies being transferred from one van to another in Stancombe Lane in Charlton Kings by two men she thought were acting suspiciously.

The police alerted all forces around the country and within an hour Stokes had been stopped on the M6.

Stokes pleaded guilty to not ensuring the needs of 44 puppies in his care and causing the death of 20 them.

The magistrates sentenced Stokes to a 12 month community order and ordered him to undertake 100 hours of unpaid work and to pay court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £95.