A woman whose dog was found in a shocking state of neglect claimed it had gone missing for several weeks only to return to her in that condition the day before a visit from the RSPCA.
Sarah Lauderdale’s six-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier Levi was so emaciated when an RSPCA inspector arrived on January 5, that its ribs, hips and sides were prominent, Sunderland magistrates heard.
The animal also had substantial hair loss, flaky skin, visible live fleas and overgrown nails.
Yvonne Jackman, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said when the inspector visited Lauderdale’s home in Theme Road, Thorney Close, Levi was in the kitchen, surrounded by dirt, and without food or water.
Mrs Jackman said: “When the defendant is interviewed she gives an account that the animal had strayed and left her address and had been missing for a period of time.
“She said it had only returned the day before the RSPCA had knocked on the door.
She went looking for the dog and couldn’t find it for four or five weeks. Then it appeared just outside her front door. She called it and it came to her and she took it in. It’s clear she fed it, because of the mess it left in the kitchenAngus Westgarth, defending
“The vet doesn’t accept that for a number of reasons, but we have to prove this.
“She didn’t believe that the animal had been outside for four weeks because of its long claws.”
“We can’t prove the period, that’s why she is charged with one day of suffering. I have never come across that before.”
Mrs Jackman added that the vet who examined the dog recorded the lowest possible body condition score of one.
When given food, the dog ate readily, which Mrs Jackman said indicates that its low body weight was not down to difficulty eating.
Blood tests showed the animal was anaemic, due to inadequate nutrition, compounded by flea infestation, the court heard.
Lauderdale had indicated guilty pleas by letter, to causing unnecessary suffering and failing to ensure the welfare of an animal, both on January 4 and 5.
However, she failed to turn up in court on a previous occasion and the case was proved in her absence. She attended court for the sentencing hearing.
Angus Westgarth, defending, said: “She accepts that on January 4, the dog appeared, having strayed and been missing.
“She did state she went looking for the dog and couldn’t find it for four or five weeks.
“Then it appeared just outside her front door. She called it and it came to her and she took it in. It’s clear she fed it, because of the mess it left in the kitchen.”
He reminded magistrates that they could only sentence her on the basis that she had committed the offences over a 24-hour period.
The bench fined her £100 with £100 costs and £20 surcharge. She was banned from keeping dogs for five years.