#TheList Scott Bruce, born c. 1972, of 8 Anchor Close, Penrith CA11 9HQ -failed to treat his pet dog’s chronic skin condition and deteriorating physical health
Bruce, whose family won £727,000 on the National Lottery in 2015, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Mia. The court heard how he failed to seek appropriate veterinary care for Mia’s chronic skin condition and deteriorating physical health.
Sentencing: 12-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months. Ordered to carry out unpaid work for 80 hours within the next 12 months. £503.20 in court cost. Banned from keeping animals for 10 years with right of appeal after five years.
#TheList Dennis Thorne, born c. 1976, of Kington Magna, Gillingham, Dorset SP9 – failed to care for goats, ferrets and poultry on his smallholding
Thorne, who is a Romany gypsy, pleaded guilty to six offences under animal health and welfare legislation following an investigation by Dorset Council Trading Standards. This included four offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 of causing unnecessary suffering to a flock of 30-40 poultry, two goats and two ferrets, by failing to provide them with appropriate care and one offence of failing to inspect his animals at regular intervals.
He also pleaded guilty to an offence of failing to tag his two goats, which is legally required to prevent animal disease spread.
In March 2019, trading standards officers visited land Thorne rented at Okeford Fitzpaine, near Sturminster Newton. They discovered the carcasses of around 20 ducks, chicken and geese littering the animal enclosure. The few surviving poultry were emaciated and in filthy conditions.
Two emaciated goats were also found in a small pen with no clean water or dry lying area.
In a nearby barn were cages containing the carcasses of two ferrets. The cages were filthy and all of the drinking containers were empty. Despite having received previous advice from the team, the goats were not tagged.
All the animals remaining in Thorne’s possession were seized by Trading Standards under the Animal Health Act and then cared for by the RSPCA. Thorne later agreed to give up his ownership of them.
The court was advised that Thorne had received a formal caution from the RSPCA in 2009 for causing unnecessary suffering to a horse.
Sentencing: 14 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months. Community Order of 200 hours of unpaid work and 20 days of rehabilitation. Ordered to pay £715. Banned from keeping all animals for 10 years.
#TheList Haley Marie Croshaw (aka Haley Knill), born 28/01/1986, most recent known address Poole Park Road, Plymouth PL5 – for leaving two horses to suffer with severe bite and kick wounds
Mother-of-two Haley Croshaw pleaded guilty to two offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 after failing to treat painful, infected bite and kick wounds suffered by her horses.
Two horses owned by Croshaw were discovered with severe injuries after an RSPCA inspector was called to a farm in Callington by concerned members of the public on May 18, 2019.
A bay gelding, known as Spirit, was discovered with bite and kick wounds which had been caused by a stallion and left untreated.
Upon further examination, the pony was found to have multiple wounds all over his body including an abscess on his neck and a large necrotic wound with fly-strike on the left thorax measuring approximately 4 inches by 5 inches.
He also had infected wounds on his right hind leg and an infected wound on his back right leg causing significant lameness to his right hind limb.
Veterinary experts concluded Spirit was suffering and had been suffering for a significant length of time, with the wounds indicating they had been left for at least a couple of weeks and that the suffering could have been avoided by appropriate management to prevent fighting among the horses.
A second horse, known as Maybelou, was found with untreated injuries that had been caused by an ill-fitting headcollar.
RSPCA inspector Jon Phipps, who investigated for the animal welfare charity, said: “These horses were left to suffer needlessly as a result of irresponsible ownership and lack of care.
“These two horses were both left with serious injuries for which no veterinary attention was sought. Owners have a duty of care to their animals and must ensure they are safe from harm and receive the care they need.”
Both horses have since recovered and found new homes.
Sentencing: 16-week prison sentence, suspended for one year; total of £415 costs and charges. Banned from keeping horses for ten years.
#TheList James Drury, born 31/07/1994 of 5 Coniston Way, Chesterfield S41 8JF – for allowing his pet dog to starve almost to death
Nine-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier Dibbley was said to be just one day from death when he was discovered in a bedroom in James Drury’s stinking property. The dog was so thin that every bone in his body was visible through his fur.
The RSPCA attended the property after being alerted by police concerned for the dog’s welfare.
As RSPCA Inspector Dave McAdam entered the property he was confronted with the smell of faeces and urine.
In the bedroom of the property, he found Dibbley in a severely emaciated state. Inspector McAdam said: This was amongst the most emaciated dogs I have ever seen that was still alive.
“The dog was so weak he had trouble walking due to the loss of muscle mass, with experience of nearly thirty years as an RSPCA inspector I knew this dog was close to death.
“There was again a large amount of faeces on the bedroom floor where the dog was being kept. Within the bedroom I did see a small amount of water in a steel bowl provided for the dog, but no food.”
Inspector McAdam had to carry the dog, estimated to be around nine years old, from the property and took him to a vet for treatment.
In a witness statement the vet who assessed Dibbley described him as “a walking skeleton”.
He said: “Every major bone in this dog’s body was clearly prominent and evident, he was literally a walking skeleton. This was amongst the worst cases of emaciation I have ever seen, this dog was no more than a day or so away from death. “
At the time of his rescue Dibbley weighed 8.9kgs but was put on a specialist diet and within six weeks he weighed 20.35 kgs.
In mitigation the court was told that Drury was suffering from stress at the time and financial hardship.
Dibbley is currently in RSPCA care and he will be re-homed soon.
Sentencing: 18-month community order with 19-day “thinking skills” programme and a 12-day rehabilitation requirement. Ordered to pay a total of £685 fine, costs and charges. Banned from keeping animals for 10 years.
#TheList Thomas J Keenan, born 1972, of Hamsterly Park, Northampton NN3 5DX – failed to get treatment for his pet cat’s serious leg injury; leg amputated
Keenan pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to his cat, Beauty, when he appeared before magistrates.
The court heard how the RSPCA were called in after receiving reports from a concerned member of the public who said Beauty had a serious leg injury that had not been treated.
RSPCA Inspector Michelle Hare visited on July 13, 2019, and could see that there was a problem with Beauty’s back left leg.
The leg was twisted inwards and looked floppy, the cat was unable to put any weight on it so, with Keenan’s permission, she took Beauty for veterinary treatment.
The vet said that Beauty had a broken femur and the bone had rubbed on her skin causing an abscess that had become infected.
He added that he estimated the pet had suffered for about three weeks.
Beauty had her leg amputated but has made a great recovery and has now been rehomed by the RSPCA.
Inspector Hare said: “We still are not sure how Beauty came to be injured but believed she may have been involved in a car accident.
“She had a nasty injury and she was struggling to walk so should have been taken to the vets straight away. Many vets will offer a payment plan to help spread the cost and there are charities who can help with vet bills.”.”
His other two cats will also be rehomed by the RSPCA.
In mitigation, the court was told that Keenan was aware of the injury but could not afford veterinary treatment.
Sentencing: 120 hours of unpaid work; £385 costs. Banned from keeping animals for 10 years.
#TheList Bradley Craig Skipp, born 17/08/1989, of Knightstone Court, Shrubbery Avenue, Weston-super-Mare BS23 2JX – intimidated and physically attacked his pet dog
Skipp, previously of Fosseway Cottages, Somervale Road, Radstock, attacked cane corso Thesesus after getting home to find the dog had emptied the contents of his fridge and washing machine and dumped items on the floor.
Concerns were raised against Skipp’s treatment of Thesesus while the pair lived in Radstock, between May 2018 and April 2019.
RSPCA inspector Miranda Albinson, who investigated the matter for the animal welfare charity, said: “A taped recording was made of Skipp, and in the recording Theseus can be heard yelping and screaming throughout, and thudding can be heard as though the dog is being subjected to a physical attack.”
Skipp denied using his fist to strike his dog.
He told the court ‘slapped’ Thesesus on the rear and denied physically harming the animal.
He did admit though to shouting at his dog on the day of the recording – April 19, 2019 – because he got back to his home to find Thesesus had emptied the fridge, a cupboard and washing machine all over the floor.
Magistrates convicted Skipp of causing unnecessary suffering.
Sentencing: 10-week curfew; fines and charges totalling £835. Banned from keeping animals for 10 years with the right of appeal after five.
#TheList Mark Cuthbert, born 07/03/1977, of 82 Thornyflat Place, Ayr KA8 0NE – set his dogs on wildlife including badgers; bought cats online to use as live bait for his dogs; failed to get vet treatment for his dogs’ fighting injuries
Mark Cuthbert pleaded guilty to keeping dogs for the purpose of an animal fight and killing a cat at home and at another premises.
Cuthbert used the selling website Gumtree to purchase the cats – with many owners believing their animals were going to a safe home.
The Scottish SPCA’s special investigations unit (SIU) received intelligence in March 2018 that Cuthbert had dogs for animal fighting. The SIU obtained a warrant to search Cuthbert’s address and, upon inspection, found his pets had injuries consistent with animal fighting.
They also suspected he had been self-medicating his dogs to avoid drawing attention to his illegal activities.
Investigators seized an electronic device that contained video and images of animal fights. The clips included Cuthbert’s dogs killing badgers and domestic cats.
Objects in the footage matched animal fighting paraphernalia discovered at his home. Among the items seized were tracking collars, nets, live animal traps, syringes, superglue, and pet carriers.
DNA analysis of these supported the case that many of the items were used for animal fighting.
The dogs involved in the case were black and white Patterdale terrier, Billy, and two brown female Patterdale terriers known as Digger and Tally.
Cuthbert pleaded guilty to keeping dogs, cats and a rat for an animal fight contrary to the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 under Section 23 (1) (a), for procuring cats for the purpose of animal fighting and arranging, participating and causing animal fights to take place under Section 23 (2) of the Act.
Commenting on the investigation and court case, a Scottish SPCA undercover special investigation unit (SIU) officer said, “This is a truly horrific case of animal cruelty, where we suspect dozens of animals have suffered mentally and physically at the hands of Mark Cuthbert. His inhumane treatment of animals is completely unacceptable.”
“We investigate reports of animal fights every week and the imagery and videos we discovered on his phone are some of the most depraved and upsetting we have seen. One harrowing video shows the three dogs attacking a domestic cat in a field which is fighting for its life. It’s clear the cat was caused horrendous suffering and many of the cats he purchased will have suffered long, torturous deaths.
“Cuthbert had been picking up the cats for his dogs to attack from the online selling site, Gumtree.
“After contacting Gumtree, we found correspondence between Cuthbert and people who had listed their cats on the site which led us to believe large numbers of cats were uplifted from pet owners who trusted their cats were going to a good, safe home.
“As well as the cats he purchased under false pretence, his own dogs have been treated appallingly. When we visited Cuthbert, two of his dogs had very obvious facial injuries and scars to the face, nose and jaw. Digger had a healed injury to the lower lip which had caused a v-shaped deformity and Billy was very aggressive when approached.
“If you are using an online service to find a new home for, or sell, your pet, please be vigilant and ensure your pet is going to a safe environment. If you are suspicious, do not continue with the sale and notify the Scottish SPCA as soon as possible.”
The Scottish SPCA’s special investigations unit are experts in investigating animal fighting offences and rely on information from the public to continue to put a stop to this horrific activity. All information shared with the Scottish SPCA can be treated with confidentiality and can be reported to the animal helpline on 03000 999 999.
Sentencing: ten months’ imprisonment. Ten-year ban on owning or keeping any animal.