#TheList professional dog walker Jacqueline Wilkins, born c. 1972, of Dorset Grove, Pudsey, Leeds LS28 7EN – caught on CCTV abusing a customer’s pet
Jacqueline ‘Jacqui’ Wilkins, owner of dog-walking service Wilkins Walkies, was caught on camera striking boxer Bella twice and shouting at her repeatedly when the dog would not stay still long enough for her to remove her harness after a walk.
In footage captured on CCTV cameras inside the home of Bella’s owners Gary Hirtsch and Louise Williams, Wilkins can be heard shouting “You’re not doing as you’re told, are you?” and “Do you want another smack?”
Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard the couple had hired Wilkins when Miss Williams broke her wrist and was unable to walk Bella and their other dog, Coco.
Bella’s owners checked CCTV footage recorded in their home after noticing a change in the dog’s behaviour. They made a report to the RSPCA after seeing the footage.
Prosecutor Andrew Davidson said: “What you can see there is what the defendant now accepts was unnecessarily rough treatment. The prosecution say there’s very rarely any reason for using that type of behaviour to discipline a dog.”
Wilkins admitted failing to meet the needs of a dog by protecting it from injury or distress. She had initially pleaded not guilty but changed her plea following expert evidence about the psychological damage Bella may have suffered.
A separate charge of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal was dismissed.
Magistrates were told that Wilkins had experienced a “moment of madness” and felt she was disciplining Bella at the time, but now recognised her behaviour was wrong.
The court heard she was of previous good character and had told her clients about the case, prompting a number to write references and two of them to attend court in support.
A probation officer also reported that Wilkins had reflected on the harm she may have caused Bella and was “completely remorseful” about her actions.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Hirtsch said: “I feel relieved. We had put her in a position of trust. I think they’ve done the right thing for the safety of the other dogs.”
He said Bella’s behaviour had changed significantly following the incident, adding: “Bella was so friendly, but then she was reluctant to go out. She used to cower on the sofa.
Wilkins was visibly upset as she left the courtroom after being told that she would not be allowed to keep her own dog, Bentley, during the two-year ban.
Friend and client Janet Pearson said: “Obviously she’s not going to have an income now but the thing she’s most upset about is losing her dog. Her dog is like her baby.
“I think the court has made an example of her. If I thought she didn’t care and was cruel, clearly there’s no way she would look after mine. It’s not just a business to her though. Dogs are her life.
“She’s worried about her clients too. What are they going to do?”
Sentencing: 12-month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work and an RSPCA education programme; total of £385 in costs and charges. Banned from keeping or caring for any dogs for two years – later reduced on appeal to just three months.