#TheList Nicola Poppleton, born 26/03/1981, of Bridge House, 48-56 Bridge Road, Stockton-on-Tees TS18 3AX – for the severe neglect of her pet dog, who was found with injuries including cigarette burns
Mother-of-six Nicola Poppleton, was drinking up to eight litres of cider a day while her cross-breed terrier named Buster suffered skin lesions, a severe ear infection and a jaw muscle condition.
The dog was found by an RSPCA inspector in a flat in Hartington Road, in central Stockton, while Poppleton was “fighting in a drunken state” outside.
Poppleton had faced four separate charges relating to causing suffering to an animal which were found proved in absence when she failed to attend Teesside Magistrates’ Court the previous month.
Stewart Haywood, prosecuting, told the court that the 10-year-old dog was found with a number of lesions consistent with cigarette burns.
He also stated that there was “muscle wastage to his head and he could barely open his jaw.”
The inspector was unable to speak to Poppleton at length as she “got into a fight with a group of people who were in a similar state.”
After further talks, Poppleton finally allowed Buster to be taken in by the RSPCA.
He was immediately taken to see a vet, who carried out tests and estimated Buster had been suffering for around three months.
The court heard Buster couldn’t fully open his mouth, meaning he could not regulate his body temperature correctly.
The vet gave him treatment, including pain killers but he was still only able to open his mouth about “three centimetres”.
He also had an ear infection, with the vet also believing he had injuries consistent with “cigarette burns.”
Despite the findings, it could not be determined if the burns were deliberate or accidental, Mr Haywood said.
The court heard that Poppleton had “accepted ownership” of Buster and that she “didn’t know he was suffering.”
A probation report stated that Poppleton was “too drunk” to notice anything was wrong with her dog who she claimed she “loved.”
Neil Douglas, defending, told how his defendant acknowledged that she was not capable of caring for the animal at the time.
He said: “This was a lady of good character who had clearly looked after the dog in reasonable state for a number years.
“However it was her alcohol misuse which essentially caused her to lose the ability to look after the dog and very nearly herself.”
Sentencing: 12-month community order with an alcohol rehabilitation requirement; £480 in costs. Banned from owning animals for just five years.