Sunderland woman banned from keeping animals after allowing her dogs's condition to deteriorate

A woman has been banned from keeping animals for a decade after allowing the condition of four dogs to deteriorate following a bereavement.

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 5:36 pm

Caroline Elizabeth Barker, 43, of Kesteven Square, in Downhill, Sunderland, received the disqualification after admitting one offence of causing unnecessary suffering to her pets over the period of a month.

Discussing the sight which greeted her, RSPCA Inspector Helen Bestwick, who led the 2019 investigation for the animal welfare charity, said: “I found Willow, a tan and white male Lurcher type dog, curled up near the doorstep.

"He was in a very thin body condition with his ribs, hips and spine clearly visible. I could see live fleas and flea dirt in his coat.

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How three of the dogs looked after the RSPCA's arrival at the pets's Sunderland home.

"Inside the house in the kitchen I had to use torchlight to see the two Staffordshire Bull Terrier-type dogs, Ben and Flossy, and a Jack Russell terrier called Missy.

"These dogs were also in thin body condition with their stomachs tucked in and had varying degrees of fur loss.

"I noticed the floor was wet with urine, a crate contained dirty, shredded bedding and there weren't any dog bowls down for the dogs.

“Police seized the dogs and I took them to a vet for examination.

"The vet confirmed all four dogs were emaciated. They readily ate treats offered to them and were actively looking for food.”

The court was told that Ms Barker had effectively lost focus after the death of a loved one and that harm was caused through incompetence owing to personal circumstances rather than malice.

Barker agreed to sign the animals over after the court hearing, enabling the RSPCA to find them new homes.

All of the dogs have since put on weight since being in the charity’s care.

In addition to the 10-year disqualification from keeping all animals, which she cannot appeal against for five years, Barker was ordered to pay a £162 fine, £500 costs and a £32 victim surcharge.

Inspector Bestwick added after last week’s case at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court: “Animals are completely reliant on their owners. There is never an excuse to ignore their needs and leave an animal to suffer in the way that these four dogs did.”

Reports about alleged cruelty or animals in distress can be made by telephoning the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

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