Three dog breeders were jailed today after two newborn puppies were found buried alive in their garden.
Husband and wife James and Lorraine Perks and their lodger, Stephen Jenkins, were each sentenced to 25 weeks in custody and banned from keeping animals for life.
All three, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, had admitted 10 animal cruelty charges at an earlier hearing.
Magistrates in Burton-upon-Trent heard that the two puppies were recovered from a shallow grave in the back garden of the defendants' home in French Avenue, Mile Oak, but had to be put down by a vet.
Another 15 puppies and nine dogs were removed from the address by RSPCA inspectors, who described the state of the house as "disgusting".
The court heard that the floors and furniture at the property was covered in dog excrement, and dogs and puppies at the address were kept in rabbit hutches for 23 hours a day.
Peter Rolfe, chairman of the bench, told the couple and their lodger he was giving them the longest sentence available to him.
He added: "If we could send you to prison for longer, we would do."
Prosecutor Paul Taylor told the court that Jenkins, 35, had admitted burying the puppies but claimed he thought they were already dead.
He said Mrs Perks, 49, said she knew the puppies were still alive when they were buried. The lawyer said: "She could not be bothered to do anything about it. She said she had other things to do."
Describing conditions at the property, Mr Taylor said: "There was dog excrement all over the floor on the ground floor. The carpet and furniture upstairs was also smeared with excrement. There was excrement all over the property."
Speaking after the sentencing, RSPCA inspector Jayne Bashford said: "No matter how many years I work for the RSPCA this day will remain one which I will never forget.
"All who attended on the day were shocked to the core.
"The whole property was in a disgusting state with pools of dog faeces on the floor of the living room and numerous young puppies living amongst the squalor. Two adult bitches in the living room had clearly been bred from several times.
"The dogs outside, confined in rabbit hutches, had no bedding and barked uncontrollably as if pleading for help.
"As the dogs were being checked over, a police officer was told that a puppy had died that morning and it was then that the abhorrent discovery was made of two tiny puppies gasping for breath beneath a patch of disturbed soil."
She added: "This case highlights all the concerns we have with respect to irresponsible and indiscriminate breeding of dogs and the selling of those animals to unsuspecting members of the public.
"The defendants admitted breeding and selling dogs. Each puppy to them was of value purely for the price they could get for it. adly this is too often the case with people who breed and sell dogs for profit where the welfare of the dogs is not the top priority. To put it simply, they were profiting in death and suffering.
"I hope this case will make people think before they respond to an advert in a newspaper, a card in a newsagents or an internet site advertising puppies as your actions could contribute to fund similar irresponsible dog breeders.
"I am pleased with the sentence imposed; that this back street puppy breeding business has been closed down means no other dogs will suffer at their hands and that at last we can now find new homes for the dogs."
Mr Perks, 74, his wife and their lodger showed no reaction as they were jailed.
A crowd of 20 animal welfare activists gathered outside the court with banners and placards and cheered RSPCA inspectors as they left the hearing.