Hartlepool, County Durham: Michaela Durkin

#TheList Michaela Alison Durkin, born c. 1995, of Jesmond Gardens, Hartlepool TS24 – allowed her dog to suffer with a broken leg for a month, eventually forcing vets to amputate it.

Whippet Lola was left to suffer with a broken leg for four weeks by her callous owner Michaela Durkin
Whippet Lola was left to suffer with a broken leg for four weeks by her callous owner Michaela Durkin

Durkin pleaded guilty one count of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal between March and April 2019.

The mother-of-two lied to RSPCA inspectors claiming her whippet, Lola, had fallen down the stairs and injured her right hind leg, but appeared to “brighten up” after a couple of days.

A member of the public contacted the animal welfare charity after noticing the family pet had an “obvious and noticeable injury”. Lola was unable to put any weight on the leg and it appeared visibly swollen.

The court heardhow Durkin denied witnessing Lola falling down the stairs, but had heard a yelp. However, she claimed she could not remember the date that the dog first began holding up one leg.

Dave Dedman, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said: “Lola was taken to see a vet who stated she was incapable of putting any weight on the leg and it was clear there was a fracture to the femur, muscle contractures and shortening of the limb.

“She said that had occurred over a prolonged period of time. She was hospitalised on April 5, 2019, but very sadly, because of the break and because the muscle had contracted, Lola had her right hind leg amputated on April 8.”

Whippet Lola was left to suffer with a broken leg for four weeks by her callous owner Michaela Durkin

Durkin, was interviewed four days later and said she thought Lola had not been herself for a couple of days, but had perked back up and she had no reason to think Lola’s leg was broken.

Vets caring for the whippet confirmed it was impossible for the dog to have sustained the injury by falling down the stairs and said the fracture had happened at least four weeks prior to the RSPCA investigation.

Whippet Lola was left to suffer with a broken leg for four weeks by her callous owner Michaela Durkin

They instead suggested Lola’s leg had been subjected to “substantial lateral force”. The court heard allegations that the father of Durkin’s children had kicked the dog, however no charges were brought against him.

Mr Dedman concluded there had been “prolonged neglect”, adding: “It’s a very sad and there’s a high level of suffering caused to the dog, to the point where her leg had to be amputated.”

A probation report stated Durkin had significant personal and financial problems and could not afford veterinary bills.

Durkin’s solicitor, Gavin Musgrave, conceded the family pet had sustained a “horrific injury” and told the court that Lola had been signed over into the care of the RSPCA.

Mr Musgrave said: “She was a responsible dog owner and she’s had animals in the past. She’s very remorseful for the incident and she’s fearful of the consequences.”

Sentencing: 12-month community order; total of £485 fine and charges. Disqualified from owning or being in control of any animal for ten years.

Northern Echo
Teesside Live

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