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Article from: “Evening Telegraph” Thursday 7th June, 1973 transcribed by Raylee Burton

Woman Threatens Suicide Over Ban

Photograph of Mrs Harpur and her dogs
Mrs Harpur and her dogs

A 73-year-old dog breeder broke down and cried before magistrates yesterday when she was banned from keeping dogs, following the discovery of three underfed Borzois in her home.

Mrs Eleanor Harpur, of The Kennels, St. Botolph's Road. Barton Seagrave, pleaded not guilty before Kettering magistrates to failing to give proper care and attention to three Borzoi dogs - Russian wolf­hounds.

But the case was found proved and when she was disqualified she cried from the dock: "Please don't say that, please don't say that. Don't take my life away from me - I have nothing else to live for."

She was banned from keeping dogs for ten years and fined £10.

"I can't do without my dogs - if you take them away, there is only one thing to do and that is to finish myself."

Prosecuting, Mr Anthony Noone told the court that Mrs Harpur's premises were visited by PC Hugh Webb of Kettering and RSPCA Inspector, Mr Harold Beech on December 11, 1972

Three dogs were later taken away and after examination by a veterinary surgeon had to be destroyed.

PC Webb said in evidence: "When we went in I saw the floor was wet and covered in excreta and urine. The place was indescribably filthy.''

In the living room, there were about 18 dogs lying on the floor, he said, and three Borzoi dogs on the settee. "They were in a pitiful state and hardly moved. They appeared to be in such poor condition that I doubt if they could have stood up - they were almost going rotten.

"I think if they had stayed on that settee they would have been dead within 24 hours - they were literally drying out."

"I told her the dogs had to be put down but I wasn't getting through to her," said Mr Beech, "all she kept saying was 'aren't my dogs beautiful and about how happy they were'."

The dogs - two bitches and a dog - were about six-months-old and had sores and fleas. One had rickets and weighed only 14 lbs, while another, which was only 19 lbs, had a pressure sore on its shoulder which exposed the bone.

The normal weight of such dogs, he said, would be around 45 lb. Their condition was caused by inadequate care and feeding, he told the court.

Mrs Harpur said the dogs were not the type of breed that carried a lot of flesh in their early months. "They never did very well," she said. "I fed them on glucose and milk but had to spoon-feed them because they couldn't take any solid food.

"They did not appear to be suffering in any way. They were quite happy - they didn't make a single sound."

Mrs E C Peck, chairman of the bench said: "This has been a very hard decision for us to reach. We feel the time has come when you should not be allowed to keep dogs."

The Champion Dog Breeder

The future of Mrs Eleanor Harpur's personal pets is uncertain but it seems likely that her 60 dogs at the Windmill Kennels, Burton Latimer will now be put under the care of kennel manager, Mr Bernard Mitchell.

As she sat at home stroking her three-year-old Borzoi Regal, she said: "I still can't believe it. I have had animals all my life - how can they take them away from me?"

RSPCA Inspector Mr Harold Beech said he had known Mrs Harpur for six years and she was well-respected in the dog world. She had shown  at Crufts, bred seven champions and picked up gold and silver medals all over the country.

"This is the most disastrous case I have ever had the misfortune to be involved in," he said.

Mrs Harpur has been breeding dogs for 50 years. She was born in Creaton, Northampton, the daughter of a well-known farmer, and soon learned how to look after cows, sheep - and especially dogs.

In 1923 she moved to Barton Seagrave and the following year set up her own kennels. Over the years she has kept Golden Retrievers, Terriers, Labradors and her greatest love - Borzois.

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