An animal breeder was fined €20,000 and banned from holding a dog licence, after admitting in court on Monday to having kept his dogs and rabbits under conditions amounting to animal cruelty.

Sergio Borg, 40, faced fresh charges for animal cruelty after nine dogs and a number of rabbits were found last February at his Mqabba farm, in cramped and unhygienic conditions, lacking ventilation and sufficient food and drink.

He was charged with breaching animal welfare and veterinary laws, as well as being a recidivist.

In October, he had landed a 15-month effective jail term after being convicted by a Magistrates’ Court over similar charges of animal cruelty.

Upon the accused’s own admission the court, presided over by magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, declared him guilty and condemned him to pay a €20,000 fine besides banning him from keeping a dog or obtaining a dog licence for life.

Such exploitation of “voiceless creatures” by “unscrupulous persons spurred by greed” who simply sought to “fatten their pockets” was “shocking and deplorable” and could not to be tolerated, said the court.

Moreover, the accused was not a first-time offender, the court pointed out, when meting out punishment.

Besides imposing a fine and a ban, the court also ordered the revocation of any relative business operating licence held by the accused who was additionally ordered to foot the bill for the treatment and relocation of the animals.

Inspector Melvyn Camilleri prosecuted.

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