A woman whose dog was unable to move and left to suffer while lying in his bed for at least five days has been banned from keeping dogs for a year, after a case was brought by the RSPCA.
Kathryn Harpin of George-A-Green Road, Wakefield, was sentenced by magistrates in Leeds on Monday (10 December) after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to an offence of causing unnecessary suffering to a cocker spaniel called Humphrey.
The court heard that the RSPCA became involved in May this year when a member of the public contacted the charity with concerns about the dog’s welfare.
When RSPCA inspector Jenny Bethel visited Harpin’s address, she found 10-year-old Humphrey lying in his dog bed unable to move.
“He was in a very bad way,” said Inspector Bethel. “What struck me straightaway was how lethargic he was, he didn’t respond to anything and was clearly too ill to stand.”
Inspector Bethel took Humphrey to a vet, where examination showed he was underweight – weighing 16kg instead of the 23kg he should have weighed – as well as being covered in fleas. Blood tests showed he was anaemic.
“He also had severe dental problems and some of his teeth had completely worn down leaving pulp exposed,” said Inspector Bethel. “We were shocked to see that he had a large ulcer on his backend which was infected, and as he’d been bedridden for at least five days he’d also developed a large and infected pressure sore on his left leg.
“Humphrey was clearly suffering and he was close to death. The vet believed the level of weight loss, muscle wastage and size of the ulcers had taken a significant time to develop, and they believed he had been lying in his bed with no movement for five days, just suffering.
“His prognosis was poor, and the vet made the difficult decision to put him to sleep as it was the most humane thing for Humphrey, who was in so much pain and discomfort.”
Magistrates banned Harpin from keeping dogs for 12 months, gave her a 12-month community order to include 40 hours of unpaid work, and ordered her to pay costs of £300 and an £85 victim surcharge.
The court heard in mitigation that Harpin had no previous criminal record, that she was suffering from stress at the time of the offence and that she regretted what happened to Humphrey, who she had owned since a pup.
Inspector Bethel said: “This is a very upsetting case which could have been avoided if Humphrey had been taken to a vet as soon as he started to deteriorate. Pet-owners have a legal responsibility to ensure their pet does not suffer and it upsets me that Humphrey was failed by the one person who was supposed to protect him.”