ALL 34 golden retrievers at a West Somerset visitor attraction have been removed after RSPCA and police officers swooped to serve a warrant.

The action came after Somerset Council announced it had revoked a licence for the Golden Retriever Experience (GRE), near Carhampton.

Revocation took immediate effect on the grounds of ‘protecting the welfare of the animals as well as breaching license conditions and regulations’.

 Golden Retriever Experience Carhampton Exmoor
Petting some of the Golden Retriever Experience pack. PHOTO: GRE.

GRE was founded in 2017 by Kennel Club accredited breeders Nicolas Grant-St James and his singer-songwriter daughter Lauren St James, and first licensed in May, 2023.

It offered personal encounters with its pack of dogs.

Somerset Council said licensing officers visited GRE and found several licence condition breaches after the RSPCA shared concerns.

An RSPCA spokesperson told the Free Press: “Officers attended the business location alongside Avon and Somerset Police who were carrying out a warrant.

“An investigation is now ongoing so we cannot go into any further detail at this time.

“We are grateful to people who report their concerns to us but we cannot comment any further as we are unable to discuss ongoing inquiries about specific individuals and what action may be taken. 

“We understand how frustrating that is for animal lovers, but releasing information could prejudice a future investigation or could lead to us being fined.”

The warrant, which allows for the potential of a future prosecution, was issued by the constabulary after the RSPCA exercised its right to ask for police support in circumstances where there were animal welfare concerns which required access.

GRE specialises in the therapeutic needs of children and adults with all forms of learning, social, and behavioural disabilities, including autism and other associated conditions.

The Free Press became aware last month that the RSPCA had been asked to help re-home some of the centre’s golden retrievers due to welfare concerns.

The South Western Golden Retriever Club said it had been asked to help with the re-homing but was aware of the RSPCA involvement and so initially left it to the charity.

A club spokesperson said: “We have lots of wonderful homes waiting for a well socialised, well reared dog needing a new home.

“We would advise anybody looking for a rescue golden to come through the correct channels and contact us rather than re-home via a Facebook advert.”

A Somerset Council spokesperson said: “This case shows that breaching licensing rules and failing to properly look after animals has consequences and that we have staff who will act quickly and make tough decisions when necessary.”

Former GRE staff were said to have raised concerns about the conditions in which the dogs were being kept with some said to have been fighting and harming each other.

GRE has a right to appeal again the licence revocation.

Ms Grant-St James told the Free Press: “We are completely dumbfounded by this sudden decision and will be appealing against it.”

She said the RSPCA had taken the dogs to be cared for while its investigation was ongoing but they remained in GRE’s ownership.