A DOG owner researched how to kill his dog online before abandoning the pet in his sewage-flooded garden.
Rottweiler Elsie could barely stand when she was discovered by RSPCA inspectors following a call from a concerned neighbour.
Sunderland magistrates were told the 13-year-old dog had a lame right foreleg, an enlarged elbow and heavy green discharge from her eyes. She was emaciated and was suffering from skin disease and hair loss.
She weighed just 25kg – a normal weight for a Rottweiler of that age is between 35 to 38kg.
Magistrates were told Elsie’s health had been deteriorating but instead of seeking the help of a vet, Anthony Christie, who had raised the dog since she was a puppy, was waiting for her to die of natural causes.
The 41-year-old even Googled how to ‘speed up the process’ and starting feeding Elsie paracemetol and chicken bones.
Christie, and partner Kirsty Marie Henderson, 29, both of Polmuir Road, Plains Farm, Sunderland, have now been banned from keeping dogs and cats for 10 years after admitting three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to Elsie between May and July this year.
RSPCA prosecutor Judith Curry told the court a neighbour spotted Elsie lying motionless and curled in a ball in the couple’s back garden on July 6.
The concerned neighbour threw some cooked chicken over the wall for Elsie and saw her try to get up to eat. She tried to roll over and then tried to stand before lying back down.
The neighbour confronted the couple and demanded they hand over Elsie to him.
An RSPCA inspector was called the next day and took her to a vet.
Mr Curry said: “A police officer was called to the vet’s and Elsie was put down immediately on the vet’s instructions due to the amount she was suffering at that point.”
When interviewed by officers, Christie said he had had Elsie since she was a puppy. He admitted giving her paracetamol and said he was waiting for her to die of natural causes.
“He said if he had thought she was suffering he would have had her put down,” Mrs Curry added. “But he admitted he was selfish.”
Gavin Sword, defending Christie and Henderson who have three children under the age of 10 living in the house, said: “This is Mr Christie’s dog, he’s had her for 13 and a half years since she was a puppy. He was very attached to her. He wanted the dog to die at home. He knew she was on her way out, as he put it. He had been on Google and apparently it was acceptable to give the dog paracetamol. He did that as a home remedy.”
Mr Sword said the offences were borne out of ‘ignorance’ and said the judgment of both of his clients had been ‘poor’. He added that the skin problem was as a result of sewage flowing into the garden, caused by a faulty drain.
Mr Sword added that Henderson is involved because she had joint responsibility of the dog, and now faces losing her job as a carer.
The couple were both sentenced to six months’ supervision and a six-week tagged night-time curfew. They will have to pay £720 costs between them.
They will not be able to appeal the ban for five years.
Chairman of the bench Lynda Scanlan said: “You don’t know how close you have come today to going to custody.
“What happened to that poor animal was absolutely despicable.
“You lived there, you saw the way that dog was deteriorating. You had children in the house.
“If it wasn’t for the kindness of the neighbour, how much longer would that animal have suffered?
“That dog is dead. That dog suffered lying in that garden and you did nothing about it.”
SPEAKING after the case, RSPCA inspector Helen Scott said: “This was an awful case and very upsetting to deal with.
“Elsie was in such a sorry state and obviously needed help.
“Thankfully, the caller intervened and we were able to get her to the vet. She was in so much pain that she didn’t want to be touched and had to be sedated to be examined. She was put to sleep whilst under anaesthetic, on veterinary advice, on welfare grounds.
“The poor girl had so many ailments that had gone without treatment. She had green discharge in her eyes, protruding bones, cracked and weeping skin. Her face was bleeding where she’d been so irritated by the itching of the skin that she’s rubbed it against a brick wall. There can be absolutely no excuse for what happened to her.”