#TheList Louise Lawford, born c. 1970, of Eastern Road, Sutton Coldfield B73 5NU – for animal welfare offences relating to her pet-sitting business Pawford Paws
In June 2019 five dogs, who became known as the ‘Tamworth Five’, went missing while in the care of Birmingham-based pet-sitting Louise Lawford. Lawford claimed that the dogs – Ralph, Charlie, Pablo, Maggie and Jack – had run off in Hopwas Woods near Tamworth, but no trace of them has ever been found.
In court, prosecutors rejected Lawford’s version of events but were unable to prove what had happened that day. Charges relating to the pets’ disappearance therefore had to be dropped.
Lawford was called a “dog killer” by someone in the public gallery, which the judge described as “outrageous”.
The court heard that Lawford had been placed in a position of trust and left customers anguished.
The fate of the Tamworth Five remains a mystery.
Some of the pets’ owners were in court to witness Lawford being sentenced.
“The dogs were never found, despite being chipped and there being extensive searches,” said Jonathan Barker, prosecuting, adding he did not accept Lawford’s account that the dogs got lost in the woods, but could not prove otherwise.
Speaking after the hearing, the dogs’ owners – who say they “know” their pets are dead – said they would take civil action against Lawford.
“It’s a positive outcome because the court just did not believe the dogs were lost,” one owner Becky Parsons said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
She said the past six months had been “an emotional rollercoaster” and that she was so upset at losing her dogs, Pablo and Maggie, that she “couldn’t face going back” to her house and has had to move.
The case, brought by Birmingham City Council, has attracted much attention on social media, and Lawford was called a “dog killer” when she left court briefly before sentencing.
The former dog walker, who has already had her licence revoked by Birmingham City Council, admitted breaching conditions including limits on the number of dogs she boarded at any one time, boarding dogs from different homes, as well as failing to seek treatment for the dog with a skin condition.
Lawford’s defence said she expressed “extreme and continuing remorse for what happened to the dogs”.
“This is well-intentioned but incompetent care,” her legal representative Tom Walking said.
Lawford apologised for the pain owners of the missing dogs have suffered
Birmingham City Council welcomed the sentence, calling the case “unusual and upsetting”.
“Only Mrs Lawford knows the truth of what happened to the five beloved pets placed in her care,” said Vicky Allwood, the council’s senior animal welfare officer.
Her sentence means she will have to give up her elderly pet labrador.
Sentencing: fined £800 and ordered to pay costs of £2,616 and a victim surcharge of £80. Banned from owning dogs for five years.