Dog prison uncovered in derelict Wigan farmhouse

Walter as a puppy with Betty the blind St Bernard
Walter as a puppy with Betty the blind St Bernard

A horrifying dog prison has been uncovered in a derelict Wigan farmhouse after two stolen pets were spotted in the grounds by a local resident.


Helpful residents in Appley Bridge reunited equine business owner Deniqua Westwood with her two beloved pooches almost a week after they were stolen from a stable more than 40 miles away from Wigan.

Inside the 'prison'

Inside the 'prison'

Stephen Rainford, a father-of-two from Appley Bridge and his wife Allison through a Facebook post, managed to identify the dogs, Walter a bull-mastiff and Betty a blind St Bernard, who had been spotted on an abandoned farm by a dog walker in Fairy Glen.

On receiving news of the sighting, Deniqua, who had offered a £20,000 reward, reportedly travelled to Appley Bridge from her Horwich home and down the single-vehicle track to the site at Richardsons Farm off Finch Lane.

Due to the house being so far out of the way, she initially worried that the tip-off had been a “wind up”, but when she heard Walter’s bark she started “crying tears of happiness” before jumping the locked fence to retrieve her dogs.

Once the dogs were safely back home, Deniqua returned to explore the squalid hovel in which they had been imprisoned for almost a week.

A bucket of water in one of the 'cells'

A bucket of water in one of the 'cells'

“It was an absolute hell-hole inside,” she said. “We found in the centre of the whole site a tiny makeshift stable. It was full of dog **** inside. They must have managed to get out somehow and that’s when someone spotted them.

“I was crying my eyes out. Everything was bolted and padlocked in there. The grass was flat where a vehicle had obviously been.

“Honestly, it was terrible. There were cells inside, each one padlocked there must have been about 20 locks. It looks like other dogs have been there, you can see where they have been.”

Deniqua contacted police to inform them of her discovery at the farm, but has not received a visit from officers so far.

A hole where the dogs chewed their way out

A hole where the dogs chewed their way out

She believes that it is the work of criminals as the tail of her horse was hacked off during the theft at the Lancaster-based stable and equine equipment was also stolen. In 2015, West Lancashire Council accepted proposals to redevelop the building.