A man has been sentenced after failing to seek veterinary help for his two dogs, resulting in one of their deaths.
The Bichon Frise had severely rotting teeth and coats matted with faeces. 11-year-old Molly’s coat was so bad that every movement tugged on her skin and she was unable to see out of her left eye. Seven-year-old Bobby had such severe dental disease that all but three of his teeth had to be removed.
The two dogs were rescued from Paul Smith’s house in North Shields by the RSPCA in Janurary.
A Chinese water dragon called Charlie, who had a necrotic injury to the tip of his tail, was also discovered at the Percy Court property.
The 67-year-old has been banned from keeping dogs and reptiles for two years after pleading guilty to animal welfare offences. He was also given a suspended eight-week prison sentence.
RSPCA animal rescue officer Heather Wade had gone to the property on 15 January this year after the charity had received reports about the animals’ welfare.
In her evidence to the court she said: “There was an extremely unpleasant smell throughout the property and no flooring on either the hallway or living area floor. The house appeared run down, messy and very dirty with a brown grime over most surfaces.
“In the living area there were two dogs which Mr Smith informed me were Molly and Bobby.
Both dogs looked as though they should have been white in colour, but had patches of brown matted fur all over their face and bodies. I was approached by Molly and could see the claws on one of her front feet were very overgrown. Bobby seemed extremely uncomfortable and was constantly rubbing his face on various surfaces throughout the visit.”
Smith told the officer that the dogs were booked in to be groomed on 20 January and that Molly had Cushing’s disease. When asked when the dogs had last been seen by a groomer he said he could not remember and was suffering from functional memory loss.
A vivarium housing a ten-year-old male Chinese water dragon called Charlie was also in the living area. The officer immediately noticed an abnormality with the reptile’s upper jaw/nose area and saw that part of his tail was missing. She was told by Smith that the reptile was unable to see the glass and kept hitting it.
The enclosure contained several plastic tubs which were dirty and had a brown sludgy substance in them. Although there was a light on in the vivarium, none of the other bulbs were switched on.
Smith acknowledged he owned and was responsible for all the animals but he couldn’t remember when they had last seen a vet. He eventually agreed to let the RSPCA officer remove them so they could be taken for examination and treatment.
In her evidence to the court, the examining vet said Molly’s eyes had been discharging for a considerable period of time and had matted to the coat to the extent that she was unable to see out of her left eye. A significant amount of faeces was found in her fur in the worst affected areas, including her head, ears, legs and rear quarters. Her claws were extremely long and there were multiple cysts on her body. Nearly half a kilo of dirty matted fur was shaved off by the veterinary team.
Magistrates heard that Bobby was suffering from very severe stomatitis and had marked tartar and loose teeth. The vet noted significant discharge around his eyes and extreme matting to his face, ears, legs and feet, with faeces visible in the coat at the rear end.
Fourteen rotten teeth had to be subsequently removed, including all four canine teeth, leaving Bobby with only three premolars in the left hand side of his lower jaw.
Chinese water dragon Charlie had an old, healed fracture to the elbow joint that was affecting his function, a more recent fracture to the left tibia and an injury to the tip of his tail which appeared necrotic. Under anaesthetic, he was found to have severe mouth rot to his nose and upper and lower jaw on both sides. Sadly the decision was made to put him to sleep to prevent further suffering.
Results for Molly were consistent with her having Cushing’s disease, although she was not receiving treatment for the condition when she was rescued. Sadly in the days that followed she stopped eating and became lethargic and polyuric. Tests also showed a very significant deterioration in her renal function and she was also put to sleep, with Smith’s consent.
The vet said: “In my opinion Molly had not been groomed for at least six months. The matting was to such an extent that every part of her body will have been attached to every other part, so when moving, turning round and getting up and down, the skin will have been pulled. Grooming is an essential requirement for this type of dog and therefore this suffering was unnecessary.
“I am not aware when she was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease or why a decision had been made not to treat the dog, but in my opinion this caused her to suffer and ultimately lead to her liver disease and death.
“Bobby’s dental disease was extremely severe. Several of his teeth had already fallen out, and what was left were generally loose and badly infected. The gums were very inflamed and painful. In my opinion this dental disease should have been treated at least six months prior to this time and the suffering was unnecessary.”
Bobby has received ongoing treatment in RSPCA care and has made a good recovery. Following the conclusion of the court case he will now be rehomed by the charity after a deprivation order was imposed.
In mitigation the court was told that Smith was in poor health and had been dealing with several personal issues.
Speaking after the case, RSPCA inspector Helen Bestwick who led the investigation for the RSPCA, said: “All three animals were clearly in a terrible and unacceptable state and this would have been obvious to their owner for months, yet veterinary help had not been sought. It’s imperative that people reach out and ask for support at an early stage, rather than letting animals suffer unnecessary neglect in circumstances like this.”
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