Dogs so neglected they’re unrecognisable

RSPCA Inspector Trevor Walker © RSPCA

In April 2012 I was involved in a warrant which was executed on a woman who had previously been prosecuted and received a five year ban for causing unnecessary suffering to cats.

My name is Trevor Walker and I am an RSPCA inspector. Sadly, what I saw on that early spring day will remain with me forever. However, I’m glad that someone did see. If we hadn’t, these animals could still be living the nightmare I found them in…

Filthy living conditions

Inside the property the stench was almost overwhelming. The kitchen was squalid with all of the kitchen units and work surfaces covered in grease and grime. Two cages were stacked on top of each other – the lower contained five adult cats while above was a lactating queen nursing three kittens.

Three cats were found in the equally squalid living room and their main toileting area appeared to be behind the television. Upstairs, the first bedroom was empty, but the floor was a carpet of ancient faeces and dried food remnants. The mattress appeared unusually clean and then I realised, it had been turned over to disguise the fully formed faeces that were literally plastered on the underside.

Depressing scenes of animal neglect and cruelty

Despite everything that we had seen, smelt and probably stood in, nothing could have prepared me for what we found in the second bedroom.

Shih tzu with overgrown and matted fur © RSPCAIn the middle of the room stood a barking hairy mass, with no discernable eyes, nose, mouth or ears, through the mass of hair and dreadlocks.

Two similar bundles of fur and dreadlocks were slumped against the back wall. At first I thought they were dead, but they flinched when I approached them.

I can honestly say hand on heart that this is the most depressing sight I have ever seen in my 15 years with the RSPCA.

These three poor dogs would have been more appropriate in an episode of Doctor Who, with their dreadlocked front ends and their tail-like trailing legs of flattened fur.

The stuff of nightmares

Shih tzus © RSPCAIt is impossible to say how long it had taken for the dogs to get in to the state they were in, but it must have been a nightmare. Permanently living in a bedroom with no ventilation, no exercise and no fresh air. Fur allowed to grow and grow – each day’s growth further impeding your senses of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. It must have been like being buried alive in your own coat of hair.

Almost eight months later the owner was successfully prosecuted and sentenced to eight weeks custody, suspended for 12 months, disqualified from keeping all animals for life, electronic tagged with a curfew of seven pm till seven am and ordered to pay a contribution of £250 towards costs.

The woman appealed the sentence, but did not attend Crown Court and was ordered to pay a further costs of £300.

The severity of the sentence shows the seriousness of the offence and there is no doubt it is an excellent result. Nevertheless, the most important factor in the whole of this matter is that the three shih-tzus have all recovered their health and now are in loving homes.

Let’s hope dogs only dream dreams, not nightmares.

No animal deserves to be treated like this

The three shih-tzus rescued on that day in April were lucky – they were rescued. Neglect can, and is, killing many other animals.  

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