#TheList Keith Lewis, born c. 1948, of York Road, Barlby, North Yorkshire YO8 – a serial abuser with three separate convictions for neglect involving dozens of animals including dogs, rabbits, ferrets and birds
In the latest prosecution case against him serial abuser Keith Lewis admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a collie dog named Meg
The RSPCA attended Lewis’s property on 13 December 2018, along with police after a call from a member of the public and found Meg tethered to a pipe with a chain inside a dark and muddy shed.
RSPCA inspector Claire Mitchell said: “The chain and tether were absolutely filthy, caked in mud and faeces.
“You could see that whatever Meg had around her neck was really tight and there was an obvious smell of infection coming from her.
“On closer inspection it became clear that it was in fact bailer twine and she needed urgent veterinary attention.”
Meg was seized by police and taken to a vets who found the area around her neck was matted with pus.
The twine – which had been wrapped around her neck multiple times – was embedded in her skin and muscle and infected, and when the vet cut it off she found a wound all the way around her neck.
Meg’s temperature was high – most likely as a result of the infection – and her lower body was matted with dirt and faeces.
She was operated on to clip and clean the wound and stitch it up and hospitalised for five days.
Veterinary evidence suggested that Meg had suffered for at least two weeks.
Inspector Mitchell said: “This is the worst tethering injury I’ve ever seen in a dog. It was absolutely terrible and she suffered a great deal.
“The RSPCA does not agree with tethering dogs for long periods as it can cause distress and restrict natural behaviours but this in itself is not illegal providing that their needs are being met.”
Meg was signed over shortly afterward coming into RSPCA care and has been rehomed.
In mitigation the court heard that Lewis had pleaded guilty, that Meg had been moved to the shed following complaints about her continuously howling where she had been previously tethered near to a public footpath, that he had animals all his life and a disqualification would have a real impact on him.
However, the court remarked that he had previous animal cruelty convictions which were an aggravating factor.
Lewis was first prosecuted in 2016 when York magistrates heard how he kept 60 animals living in filthy, squalid and cramped conditions in former agricultural buildings in Barlby.
On that occasion he admitted neglect offences in relations to about 30 of the animals, mostly poultry and rabbits, and was banned from keeping caged animals for 10 years and ordered to do a 12-week curfew.
Three months after he appeared in court, police and an RSPCA inspector found two ferrets at his house in what the RSPCA’s prosecuting solicitor Phil Brown called “frankly appalling” conditions. They had no water, they were kept with piles of faeces and dirty bedding and three rotting rabbit carcasses.
Lewis was again taken to court and this time admitted breaching the 10-year animal ban, and failure to care for animals.
He received a second 10-year animal ban, preventing him having animals kept in cages.
But in December 2018, the RSPCA found Meg with the untreated wound round her neck.
At each of his three hearings, he claimed through his solicitors that the animals belonged to his son, claims that are not accepted by the RSPCA.
Sentencing (February 2019): 24-week prison sentence, suspended for two years; total of £415 costs and charges. Banned indefinitely from owning or having any part in the care of any animal of any species. A deprivation order was placed on any other animals in his care, including a number of dogs, cats, poultry, sheep, cows and pigs.