A callous pet owner who tried to pass off her dying dog as a stray has been given a suspended prison sentence after a landmark prosecution by Dacorum Borough Council.
Mum of six Ashley Payne, 39, who was also banned from keeping a dog for 10 years, pretended she had found the emaciated Staffordshire bull terrier wandering the streets with weeping wounds and sores.
When Dacorum dog warden Sarah Lewis arrived to collect the dog, called Catch, she was appalled at its condition – and suspicious about Payne’s story, St Albans magistrates heard.
She took Catch to a vet who decided to put him to sleep immediately because of the amount of pain he was in.
He was diagnosed with emaciation, dehydration, multiple severely infected wounds, untreated dermatitis and a melon-sized swelling on his abdomen.
Payne later admitted three-year-old Catch had been a family pet at her home in Long John, Bennetts End. She said she had never taken the dog to the vets because she could not afford treatment.
Payne, who admitted pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and failing to ensure his needs were met, was sentenced to two concurrent eight week prison sentences suspended for 12 months as well as being ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 costs.
After the case dog warden Ms Lewis said: “It is very rare for a council to prosecute under the Animal Welfare Act but we felt we owed it to this poor dog to prosecute his owner. I have been a dog warden in Dacorum for 17 years and I have never seen a dog suffering as much as Catch was.”
RSPCA Inspector Rachel Smith said “I was pleased that we were able to work alongside the council in investigating this matter.
“The council’s vital dog warden service should not be abused by those wishing to avoid their responsibilities as owners.
“Should anyone feel they are unable to provide the appropriate care for their animals they should contact an animal welfare organisation immediately. It is unacceptable to allow an animal to suffer. The sentencing was an example of how seriously these matters will be dealt with, not just by the RSPCA but also by other welfare organisations.’