A man from Wigan has been disqualified from owning any animal for five years after failing to seek veterinary treatment to address his springer spaniel’s extreme weight loss, eye infection and mammary tumour.
David Farrimond was sentenced to a 12 month community order, with 80 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay £1,015.96 in costs and £114 a victim surcharge, as well as the ban from keeping animals. The sentencing took place on 19 October at Wigan Magistrates Court, after he had pleaded to two offences under the Animal Welfare Act.
The court heard that in February, the RSPCA visited an address in Wigan to carry out an animal welfare check, after receiving a report from a concerned member of the public about a dog in poor condition. The RSPCA inspector found springer spaniel Bella inside the unoccupied house. Despite the dog being severely underweight, suffering from an eye infection and a mammary growth, the defendant had failed to seek veterinary care for her.
RSPCA inspector Rachel Whalley said: “When I visited the Wigan property, it was clearly unoccupied but looking through a gap in the curtains, I could just make out a white and brown dog that was lying down. I was very concerned for her welfare – she did not move, even when I shouted and hammered loudly on the window.
“I managed to squeeze some dog food through the letterbox, which made Bella get up and come to the front door. I could hear her but couldn’t see her, so I put my phone through the letterbox so I could assess her condition. The photos and videos I took showed Bella eating the food ravenously. She looked underweight, her ribs were showing and she was shaking.
“After she had something to eat, she appeared more alert and jumped up onto the window sill of the front room. I could then see the full extent of Bella’s condition. She looked extremely underweight. There was green discharge coming from both her eyes, and her nails were also very overgrown.
“I was very concerned that she was in a very poor condition and there appeared to be nobody attending to this dog.”
Following liaison with the police and local authorities, inspector Whalley was able to gain entry to the property. The house smelt strongly of ammonia, there was fresh and mouldy faeces everywhere and the floor was cluttered with hazards including a razor blade. While the inspector was recording a video, Bella got her leg stuck on a metal oven grill on the floor. The property was not a safe living environment for an animal and inspector Whalley took her away to be examined by a vet at the RSPCA’s Greater Manchester Animal Hospital.
RSPCA vet Izabela Gibka examined Bella, and reported that she “was severely underweight and emaciated”. She found that Bella’s ribs, spine and pelvic bones were prominent. The dog was also struggling from muscle loss especially on her back limbs which can be a sign of insufficient nutrition for a long period of time.
Dr Gibka reported that Bella’s coat was dirty and smelly, her eyelids were severely swollen and covered in yellow crusty discharge and her nervousness during the eye examination suggested there was pain and irritation in this area. Tests showed this was untreated bacterial conjunctivitis.
In addition, the vet found a 5cm (2in) long pendulous tumour on her abdomen, which was most likely associated with her mammary gland. The mass showed some ulceration was present; the skin on the mass was tense and had started breaking down. This happens commonly with untreated mammary masses and can cause severe pain and infection.
She believed Bella would have been suffering from malnutrition for at least two months, but likely longer. She was also suffering from the untreated mammary tumour while she felt a reasonable owner would have sought veterinary advice for once they noticed the growth on the dog’s abdomen. The owner had also failed to provide appropriate coat hygiene for a dog of Bella’s type and her nails were left untrimmed.
Inspector Whalley added: “It was Farrimond’s legal responsibility to care for his dog and he failed to do this. There was no excuse for failing to seek veterinary care for poor Bella when it was abundantly clear that she so desperately needed it.
“This case simply shouldn’t have happened. The RSPCA urges anyone struggling to take care of their pet to ask for help, rather than neglecting them and leaving them to suffer like this.”