Tag Archives: 2018 cases

An Accident Waiting to Happen: The Death of Police Dog Ivy

On 6 July 2018 a police dog named Ivy died from heatstroke after being left unattended for two hours in a West Mercia Police* vehicle on one of the hottest days of the year. So why has no one been held accountable for her death?

Photo of Police Dog Ivy who roasted to death in an unattended police dog on one of the hottest days of 2018
Tragic West Mercia Police dog Ivy died from heatstroke

In February 2017 retiring police dog handler Sergeant David Evans was devastated to learn that his request to keep his canine partner of four years, German shepherd/Malinois crossbreed Ivy, had been refused by his employer, West Mercia Police (WMP). The force’s decision sparked a public outcry with a petition launched by Sergeant Evans’s daughter Jennie aimed at keeping the two together attracting more than 140,000 signatures. Sadly the campaign fell on deaf ears and Sergeant Evans and his cherished dog Ivy were separated for good.

Ivy with her former handler Sgt David Evans
A deep and unbreakable bond: beautiful Ivy with her former handler Sergeant David Evans.

Explaining the force’s decision, Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said that police dogs “are not family pets. They belong to the force and are highly valued resources“.

He continued: “Police dog Ivy is very young and has many years’ service ahead of her.”

Bangham’s words would soon come back to haunt him.

Less than 18 months later, it was reported that PD Ivy had tragically died inside one of the force’s vehicles. Her death had occurred during a period of unprecedented hot weather, with Met Office data for the day of the incident confirming that temperatures in the force’s area had exceeded 29 degrees.

Dogs die in hot cars …. duh!

Being well used to the regular warnings of animal welfare organisations like the RSPCA, Scottish SPCA and PDSA about the dangers of leaving dogs inside vehicles during warm weather, many people naturally speculated that this was what had happened here.

Could a police officer have acted so irresponsibly again? There was a history there after all.

Who could ever forget the cases of Sergeant Ian Craven of Metropolitan Police and Police Constable Mark Johnson of Nottinghamshire Police? Between them, these officers are responsible for the deaths of five police dogs after leaving them to bake to death in patrol cars.

Police officers Ian Craven (left) and Mark Johnson (top right shows Johnson with one of the dogs he left to roast to death in a vehicle. Between them the pair are responsible for the deaths of five dogs.
Police officers Ian Craven (left) formerly of the Met and Mark Johnson of Nottinghamshire Police (top and bottom right). .

Both Craven (actually a repeat offender) and Johnson were prosecuted in the courts under animal welfare legislation and also faced internal misconduct procedures, with the former ultimately resigning from the force (Johnson on the other hand had been promoted to sergeant as at February 2015). The pair were also subjected to public scrutiny and castigation after their respective cases received widespread coverage in the national press.

Not so the police officers, of all ranks, whose actions and indeed inaction caused the death of PD Ivy. We don’t even know their names.

An exercise in damage control: West Mercia Police’s misleading initial statement

Ever mindful of managing their reputation in an era where the UK police service is often the subject of public criticism, WMP were plainly anxious from the outset to play down any speculation that their officers were in any way to blame for Ivy’s death. The very next day they released the following carefully crafted statement (we’ve highlighted the significant bits in bold):

It is with great sadness that we share news today of the death of one of our serving police dogs who died yesterday.

Chief Inspector Mark Colquhoun said: “Five-year-old police dog Ivy was on duty at the time of her death. She arrived at work with her handler but had not participated in any activity.

Ivy was in a purpose-designed climate controlled police vehicle with another dog. She was discovered to be unresponsive and immediate medical care was provided by her handler.

Consequently she was taken to the local vets where she sadly passed away. The second dog in the vehicle was found not to be in any distress or unwell state.

As is established practice, a post mortem will be conducted to determine the cause of Ivy’s death and we are fully investigating the circumstances leading up to her death.

The implications of the statement couldn’t be clearer. WMP are blameless. Nothing to see here. Mind how you go.

It would be the best part of four months before the hideous truth would be made public (by which time many people would’ve forgotten about the case); PD Ivy had been left unattended and unchecked for TWO HOURS in the back of a police car on one of the hottest days of the year and HAD died from heatstroke.

The truth finally emerges: the findings of Staffordshire Police’s independent investigation

In late October 2018 Staffordshire Police released their Peer Review Report. The report identified a total of 17 serious failings by WMP’s dog handling unit, which had combined to create a ‘perfect storm’ where the death of one of the force’s dogs was, quite simply, an accident waiting to happen.

We won’t go through the report’s findings in detail here; BBC News provides a fairly decent summary of those. The report is well worth reading in its entirety, however, even though its exposure of police incompetence coupled with a culture of shocking indifference to dog welfare is liable to send any animal lover’s blood pressure sky high.

West Mercia’s initial response to Staffordshire Police’s Peer Review

Regardless of the detail regarding the technical failures of the vehicle in which Ivy died, the crux of the matter is this. She, and her pod mate, were left in a vehicle parked in direct sunlight for two hours without a single check being made on them. It was extremely hot and continuously sunny, as it had been in the days leading up to 6 July.

Ivy’s handler was attending a training exercise at WMP headquarters in Worcester. He and several other dog handlers participating in the training left their dogs behind in vehicles. Due to lack of available parking in the shade, all of the vehicles were parked in direct sunlight.

There was no opportunity during the exercise for any of the handlers to check on their dogs (the two trainers didn’t see this as a problem and indeed left their own dogs in vehicles unattended for nearer three hours) and none of them saw fit to raise an objection.

Several of the handlers were well aware that the ventilation systems on their vehicles (air con, ‘run stop’ and the like) were unreliable and/or they were unsure of how to operate them correctly (no instruction had ever been provided to them and no one was proactive enough to ask).

It is more down to luck than judgement that no other West Mercia police dog has ever died in the same appalling circumstances as Ivy.

Each of those police officers, including the two trainers, one of whom was a former RAF dog handler, played Russian roulette with their dogs’ lives that day (and every other day, apparently) and in the case of Ivy’s handler lost with the most tragic of consequences. As always it’s the helpless animals who suffer most. Ivy is dead, the police officers involved haven’t received so much as an internal reprimand.

The review also makes a nonsense of WMP’s initial statement in four key areas:

Post-mortem results
The review included the results of the post-mortem examination of Ivy’s body, which confirmed that she had died from Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation, brought on by heatstroke. Ivy’s veterinary history revealed that she had no underlying health conditions that could have caused or contributed to her death. She was “a fit, healthy and competent police dog”.

The other dog
The surviving dog – a springer spaniel, as it turns out (funny how that not insignificant detail was omitted from WMP’s initial statement) – far from being unaffected was noted by three different eyewitnesses to be displaying signs of heat stress:

Section 5.4: “[The spaniel] seemed OK but was panting a bit as if suffering from the effects of heat.”

Section 5.7: “[redacted] went to get his water and get his spaniel out. (Redacted) recalls him looking hot and visibly puffing and panting“.

Section 5.8: [the spaniel] “collapsed down as if significantly affected by the heat” … [He] was not right, he was panting rapidly and was clearly adversely affected by heat.”

Furthermore, the report notes that the malinois breed has a pre-disposition for heat stroke due to the insulating nature of their coat, which makes it harder for them to lose heat. The much smaller and lighter springer spaniel is far more able to cope with high temperatures and humidity. Surely the author of WMP’s initial statement would have been well aware of this and should have made that information known from the outset.

The “purpose-designed climate-controlled vehicle
The vehicle in which Ivy died was neither “purpose-designed” nor “climate controlled“. This was an ordinary Skoda estate car into which two dog pods had been fitted.

A Skoda Superb estate dog patrol car

The pods housing Ivy and the other dog were fitted in the rear of the vehicle.  These would need to be built to DEFRA and RSPCA guidelines, i.e. of a specific size and with adequate ventilation. 

Two-pod unit inside a Skoda Superb estate car
A pod in the back of a police vehicle
Dog pods in a police vehicle, in this case a Ford Mondeo

Dog pods can be equipped with technology capable of monitoring both temperature and humidity as well as cameras and heat alarms. The pod unit housing Ivy and her pod-mate had a dedicated air-con system, but nothing else.

To call the police patrol car in which Ivy died a “purpose-designed climate-controlled vehicle” is, quite frankly, bullshit.

Besides this, none of the handlers had been trained on the effective operation of any of the ‘climate control’ features of their vehicles. Some even expressed doubts as to the reliability of integrated systems such as the air-conditioning and ‘run-stop’.

Any reasonable lay person might wonder why, given this knowledge, these officers saw fit to leave their dogs in these potential death traps at all, never mind for two hours without a single check being made.

The “immediate medical care” administered to PD Ivy
The report reveals that Ivy’s handler had not been trained in canine first aid and didn’t even know how to use the first aid kit for dogs that was kept in his vehicle. Instead, he attempted some basic CPR, including chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, which was ultimately futile.

Another dog handler also had a go at resuscitating Ivy, but again not being trained in canine first aid, admitted she wasn’t sure what she was doing.

The Keystone Cops have nothing on this lot.

A local vet had been asked to attend the scene but refused for reasons that are not made entirely clear in the review.  While unlikely given that she was barely alive when her handler finally returned to check on her, it is always possible that earlier medical intervention could have saved Ivy’s life.

All of this exposes WMP’s initial statement as profoundly misleading. The force is clearly spinning a narrative designed to give the impression of an efficient, proactive organisation and to fend off adverse publicity.

Given that honesty, integrity and transparency are the foundations of the police service this blatant attempt at cover-up is indefensible.

The harshest of lessons

In a statement published on their website on 25 October 2018, West Mercia Police said they accepted the review’s recommendations and affirmed that they would be developing a number of initiatives and updating their procedures relating to police dogs. They also said that they would share the ‘lessons learned’ with forces across England and Wales.

Assistant Chief Constable of WMP Geoff Wessell concluded: “We accept that PD Ivy should not have died as a result of heatstroke and we have learned this very harsh lesson in the worst possible way.”

Repercussions (or lack thereof)

WMP’s acceptance that mistakes have been made is all very well and good – Ivy’s death has clearly given them a much-needed wake-up call – but a beautiful and much loved dog has still lost her life and for that there needs to be consequences. If Ivy had been human, those responsible would be PUNISHED. Contrition on its own simply won’t cut it.

Sadly it would appear that that’s as far as it’s going to go. As matters stand, no one is to be prosecuted or even disciplined in connection with the death of PD Ivy.

“No criminal offences identified”

The RSPCA, who held off any involvement in the case pending the outcome of the police’s internal investigation, have now confirmed that they are satisfied that Staffordshire Police’s “full and thorough investigation into the circumstances of Ivy’s death … did not identify any criminal offences”.

We disagree. Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 places a duty of care on people to ensure they take reasonable steps to meet their animals’ welfare needs with an obligation to protect them from “pain, suffering, injury and disease” and to provide them with “a suitable environment”.

The facts and circumstances surrounding the death of PD Ivy reveal a very obvious dereliction of that duty of care in this case.

Besides this, Staffordshire Police’s review explicitly states in its terms of reference that its purpose is “not to attribute blame” and nowhere does it say that investigators are seeking to identify whether any criminal offences (or indeed misconduct issues) have been committed. The review merely presents the evidence gathered and makes recommendations for improvement to prevent a recurrence.

To say the RSPCA’s stance is puzzling is an understatement especially as they regularly prosecute ordinary members of the public irresponsible enough to leave their dogs in vehicles during hot weather – and rightly so. So why is this case any different?

Police officers are not above the law. They should be responsible for what they do or don’t do, just like everyone else.

We’re not RSPCA-bashers as a rule but we would urge the charity to have a serious rethink of their decision not to prosecute here.

“No case for misconduct”

WMP accept that Ivy’s death was preventable and should not have occurred. Staffordshire Police’s review laid bare a catalogue of errors by officers of all ranks, coupled with a cavalier and lackadaisical attitude towards the welfare of police dogs. So why then has the force concluded that there is “no case for misconduct“?

The public is entitled to expect the highest standards of behaviour from police officers and these officers have fallen well short of those expectations.

On a more practical level, there has also been a financial loss here (in the words of Chief Constable Bangham, police dogs are “a highly valued resource”, remember?).

It is estimated that it costs around £24,000 to purchase and train a police dog – that’s taxpayers’ money gone to waste. Surely there has to be accountability for that at the very least? Not our key concern, but another possible argument for disciplinary action.

Next steps

As passionate animal welfare campaigners, we are not prepared to accept that no one is to be punished for Ivy’s death when it’s plain as day that a lack of care was the cause of it.

With this in mind, we are to write to West Mercia Police seeking their response to the following questions in connection with Ivy’s death:

  1. Was any police officer even investigated for potential misconduct? If not, why not? 
  2. Why were dog handlers not issued with instructions on the correct operation of their vehicles’ air-conditioning and other climate-control features?
  3. Was any consideration given to postponing the firearms training exercise on animal welfare grounds in light of the unprecedented period of hot weather? If not, why not?
  4. Why were participants in the training exercise not given an opportunity to check on their dogs? Who is responsible for this decision and why haven’t they been disciplined? 
  5. Why was no provision made for dog handlers to be allocated parking in a shaded area of the car park? Staffordshire Police’s report says that dog handlers parked in direct sunlight because “there was nowhere else to park”. Do you consider that this would have been an acceptable excuse from a member of the public?

Should we receive an unsatisfactory response or feel we are being fobbed off, then we will make a complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

One animal welfare campaigner with a special interest in the PD Ivy case has already made an official complaint to the West Mercia Police Professional Standards Department about the handling of the inquiry and the force’s decision not to take disciplinary action against any of the police officers involved.

The complaint was rejected on the grounds that it didn’t “fit with the police complaints procedure”. The justification for this is quite technical and appears to relate to the complainant not being an eye witness to the events of that day. Further investigation suggests that the rejection was incorrect and this is something we would like to challenge. Watch this space.

We will also be writing to the RSPCA asking them to reconsider their decision not to prosecute anyone, despite an obvious breach of the Animal Welfare Act.

Finally, while we are encouraged by the fact that the recommendations made by Staffordshire Police are to be shared across police forces in England and Wales, we would like to follow up on that. In the coming weeks we will submit Freedom of Information requests to each police force with a dog handling unit. We will file similar requests with Police Scotland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). We aim to have this completed well before autumn 2019.

Ivy’s legacy

As we approach the first anniversary of Ivy’s death, we can take some comfort that her tragic loss hasn’t been in vain. At the very least it seems to have shaken West Mercia Police out of their complacency and indifference to animal welfare. It has led to them launching new protocols and making much-needed changes to the treatment and handling of the dogs in their care.

It is also encouraging that other UK police forces are apparently to learn valuable lessons from the events of that day as we’re quite certain West Mercia aren’t alone in their laissez-faire attitude to dog safety.

PD Ivy

While none of this will return Ivy to life, it will, if implemented properly, bring about better protection for other UK police dogs, who after all are sentient beings and not equipment, so that there is no opportunity for other police dogs to be put in harm’s way as Ivy was that day.

*When Ivy’s death occurred, West Mercia Police were in a strategic alliance with Warwickshire Police. Staffordshire Police’s report refers to ‘the Alliance’ in its report rather than ‘West Mercia Police’. The two forces have since demerged and all communications regarding the death of PD Ivy have been issued by West Mercia Police and all media reports on the incident have also referred to ‘West Mercia Police’. For the purposes of simplicity we have done likewise in our article.

Lancaster, Lancashire: Andrew John Rooney

#TheList Andrew John Rooney, born c. 1973, of 26 Mayfield Avenue, Lancaster LA1 2NY – found with two dogs, a cat, a budgie, a hamster and a guinea pig in breach of a 1997 ban on keeping animals.

Serial animal abuser Andrew John Rooney breached a previous ban.
Serial animal abuser Andrew John Rooney breached a previous ban.

Serial animal abuser Andrew John Rooney admitted breaching the lifelong disqualification between January 17, 2016, and July 17, 2018, by keeping two dogs, known as Shadow and Max, a cat known as Magic, alongside a bird, hamster and guinea pig.

Serial animal abuser Andrew John Rooney breached a previous ban.

Rooney pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to one of the dogs, a Labrador, by failing to seek adequate veterinary treatment for her skin condition between February and April 27, 2018.

14 -week jail term, suspended for two years; rehabilitation activity requirement; 150 hours of unpaid work. Total of £615 costs and charges.

Lancashire Post

Malton, North Yorkshire: Anna Marie Sykes and Carly Marie Sykes

#TheList Anna Marie Sykes of Crabtree Drive, Malton YO17 7FQ and daughter Carly Marie Sykes, born 07/07/1994, of Dairy Way, Malton YO17 9FA – allowed their elderly Labrador to become emaciated.

Carly and Anna Marie Sykes and their neglected dog Bailey.

Anna and Carly Sykes both pleaded guilty to causing black Labrador Bailey (pictured) unnecessary suffering and to failing to investigate the cause of his poor body condition.

Bailey, who is said to be around 10/11 years old, was discovered, apparently abandoned, outside Anna Sykes’s property by the local authority who called the RSPCA. On attendance, inspectors found a dog that was so thin all of his bones were visible through his skin. He weighed almost half of what he should have done.

Bailey wolfed down any food put in front of him and after a fortnight on a normal diet, his weight had increased by a third.

Carly Marie Sykes
Carly Marie Sykes from Malton, North Yorkshire

The court heard that Carly Sykes was supposed to be looking after Bailey for her mother who had moved into a property where dogs were not allowed. She claimed in court that Bailey rejected all food put in front of him and she believed he was pining for her mother.

The RSPCA had asked magistrates to ban the pair from caring for dogs, but magistrates declined.

They said because the daughter had another dog that was apparently healthy, she clearly could care for dogs properly and the mother had not had day-to-day care of Bailey..

Sentencing: Each woman was fined £200 and ordered to pay £150 prosecution costs and a £30 statutory surcharge.

Gazette & Herald

Bury, Greater Manchester: Kirsty Hamilton

#TheList Kirsty Hamilton, born c. 1984, of 15 Martin Street, Bury BL9 7SF – left an emaciated Arab mare with a severe hoof infection

Neglected Arab mare Blossom and her cruel former owner Kirsty Hamilton from Bury.
Neglected Arab mare Blossom and her cruel former owner Kirsty Hamilton from Bury.

Hamilton pleaded guilty to four counts of failing to meet the needs of Arab mare Blossom, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The RSPCA was contacted by a member of the public who was concerned about Blossom, kept at stables at Nook Farm, Nook Lane, Tyldesely, Astley. On investigating, the mare’s bodyweight was rated one, the lowest on a scale of one to nine, and a vet found she had a bad case of thrush in all her hooves.

Inspector Danni Jennings, said: “The horse was clearly in an emaciated state and had other problems which had not been dealt with such as overgrown teeth.

“The infection in her hooves was awful and was caused by her standing in faeces in a dark and damp stable block for a long period of time.”

Kirsty Hamilton with boyfriend Joe Cannon. Cannon is from a notorious family of travellers.
Kirsty Hamilton with boyfriend Joe Cannon. Cannon is from a notorious family of travellers, who deal in horses and also raffle them on social media.

In mitigation the court heard that Hamilton had personal problems and was pregnant.

Blossom was taken for treatment and is now in the care of the charity.

Sentencing: 12-month community order; curfew order; total of £1,585 costs and charges. Banned from keeping equines for just one year.

Leigh Journal

Atherton, Wigan: Aithne and John Declan Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy

#TheList Aithne Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy, born 24/01/1995, of George Street, Atherton, Wigan M46 and brother John Declan Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy, born c. 1994, of Bolton Road, Atherton, Wigan M46 – allowed a pack of neglected ponies to roam on an industrial estate

Brother and sister John Declan Ashurst O'Shaughnessy and Aithne Ashurst O'Shaughnessy

In a prosecution brought by the RSPCA brother and sister Aithne and John Declan Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy, whose mother is convicted horse abuser Lorraine Ashurst, pleaded guilty to a string of cruelty offences.

Horses neglected by Aithne Ashurst-O'Shaughnessy and brother John Declan Ashurst-O'Shaughnessy, both of Atherton Wigan

Aithne Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy admitted seven offences related to the care of seven Welsh-type ponies while her brother pleaded guilty to four charges involving looking after the same animals.

A grey mare was found by RSPCA inspectors with her feet in terrible condition. The animal was lame from severely overgrown hooves, had an abscess and suffered from chronic laminitis.

Horses neglected by Aithne Ashurst-O'Shaughnessy and brother John Declan Ashurst-O'Shaughnessy, both of Atherton Wigan

Five of the ponies were also not protected from pain and suffering because a farrier was not employed to look after their hooves.

The seven animals were also not provided with a suitable living environment.

Horses neglected by Aithne Ashurst-O'Shaughnessy and brother John Declan Ashurst-O'Shaughnessy, both of Atherton Wigan

John Declan Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy, who has a previous conviction for horse cruelty, admitted failing to provide suitable accommodation for the ponies, not providing them with daily care and supervision to prevent harm coming to them, neglecting the grey mare and not getting a farrier for two grey mares.

Most of the animals were pregnant and one sadly died from complications giving birth after the RSPCA had rescued them.

Animal welfare inspectors found the terrified creatures causing chaos at a glass manufacturer’s site in Hindley after escaping from their grazing grounds.

They had also crossed a main road streaming with traffic during their wanderings.

RSPCA inspector Alison Fletcher said: “This case highlights the need for responsible equine ownership. Horses need to be contained in a suitable and secure environment.

“There have been a lot of problems with straying horses in Wigan over the years and it causes a risk to the animals and to people.

“The ponies had got off the land where they were originally being kept, gone down a main road and ended up on an industrial estate. It was extremely dangerous for them and they were very fearful.

“This case also highlights the basic needs horses have, like regular foot trimming. If this doesn’t happen it can cause them immense suffering.

“You can’t just have a pet horse in a field. The costs of looking after them are extremely high and people need to think through what they are going to need before they take on an equine.”

The animals were so frightened they had to be sedated for inspectors’ safety during the operation to remove them on February 2, a day after the welfare charity was called about them.

Defending Aithne Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy, Paul Blanchard said ownership of the horses had been transferred to her from other family members in December 2017 and she had to take responsibility for what subsequently happened to them.

Peter Leather, representing John Declan Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy, said his client admitted neglecting the ponies after being tasked with maintaining the fences and keeping their enclosure secure as well as feeding them hay each day.

John Declan Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy – 120 hours of unpaid work; £2,400 costs plus £85 victim surcharge
Aithne Ashurst-O’Shaughnessy – 70 hours of unpaid work; £1,200 costs plus £85 victim surcharge.

Both were banned from keeping horses for two years and deprivation orders were made to take the six surviving ponies and their foals away from the Ashurst-O’Shaughnessys.

Wigan Today

Sheffield: Ashley Cooper and Katy Gordon

#TheList Ashley Cooper, born c. 1967, and Katy Gordon, born c. 1985, both of 54 Ronksley Road, Sheffield S5 0HF – failed to treat their crossbreed dog’s painful skin condition

Katy Cooper, Ashley Cooper and their neglected dog Sasha, who was suffering from a painful skin condition.

The RSPCA first contacted Ashley Cooper and Katy Gordon about their cross-breed dog, Sasha, in 2016, after concerns were raised about her welfare and skin condition.

Prosecutor Andy Cash said the couple initially heeded the RSPCA’s advice and took her to the vet, which led to her condition improving.

But in September 2018, the charity were contacted about Sasha’s welfare once again.

Sasha the dog neglected by Ashley Cooper and Katy Gordon

“She was [found to be] very low in weight, and her skin condition was frankly appalling…her skin was pustulating,” said Mr Cash, adding: “It’s the Society’s case that she was suffering for a considerable amount of time.”

He added: “Mr Cooper signed the dog over to the Society straight away, and with proper care, the dog has made a full recovery.”

Sasha the dog neglected by Ashley Cooper and Katy Gordon

When interviewed, Cooper and Gordon both admitted responsibility for Sasha, and described how they could not afford to take her to the vets, so attempted to treat her condition with products they had bought instead.

“There would have been all sort of alternatives available to them [to help with veterinary care], as I’m sure you will understand,” Mr Cash told the magistrates.

Mr Cash said the couple also owned cats and a Chihuahua dog; and said that while their cats were found to have fleas, there was no evidence of them being mistreated.

As a result, he asked for them to be banned from owning dogs specifically, which would allow them to keep their cats.

Cooper and Gordon were not represented in court.

Sasha has made a good recovery in the care of the RSPCA.

When asked if there was anything she would like the magistrates to take into consideration when passing sentence, Gordon said: “I’m really, really sorry.”

To the same question, Cooper replied: “I’m really, really sorry about what’s happened to Sasha. We have a disabled daughter and the Chihuahua is hers. She suffers from learning difficulties, and it’s going to be hard for her to understand where the dog has gone.”

Katy Gordon – 40 hours of unpaid work and 15 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement
Ashley Cooper – 60 hours of unpaid work.

Each was ordered to pay £185 in costs and banned from owning dogs for five years.

The Star

Wakefield, West Yorkshire: Kathryn Elizabeth Harpin

#TheList Kathryn Elizabeth Harpin, born 01/01/tbc, of George-a-Green Road, Wakefield WF2 – left poorly 10yo cocker spaniel to suffer for at least five days in his bed when he was unable to move

Kathryn Elizabeth Harpin and her 10-year-old cocker spaniel Humphrey, who she left to rot in his bed.

Kathryn Harpin pleaded guilty to an offence of causing unnecessary suffering to a cocker spaniel called Humphrey.

The court heard that the RSPCA became involved in May 2018 when a member of the public contacted the charity with concerns about the dog’s welfare.

When RSPCA inspector Jenny Bethel visited Harpin’s address, she found 10-year-old Humphrey lying in his dog bed unable to move.

“He was in a very bad way,” said Inspector Bethel. “What struck me straightaway was how lethargic he was, he didn’t respond to anything and was clearly too ill to stand.”

Inspector Bethel took Humphrey to a vet, where examination showed he was underweight – weighing 16kg instead of the 23kg he should have weighed – as well as being covered in fleas. Blood tests showed he was anaemic.

“He also had severe dental problems and some of his teeth had completely worn down leaving pulp exposed,” said Inspector Bethel.

“We were shocked to see that he had a large ulcer on his backend which was infected, and as he’d been bedridden for at least five days he’d also developed a large and infected pressure sore on his left leg.

“Humphrey was clearly suffering and he was close to death. The vet believed the level of weight loss, muscle wastage and size of the ulcers had taken a significant time to develop, and they believed he had been lying in his bed with no movement for five days, just suffering.

“His prognosis was poor, and the vet made the difficult decision to put him to sleep as it was the most humane thing for Humphrey, who was in so much pain and discomfort.”

The court heard in mitigation that Harpin had no previous criminal record, that she was suffering from stress at the time of the offence and that she regretted what happened to Humphrey, who she had owned since a pup.

Sentence: 12-month community order to include 40 hours of unpaid work, costs of £300 and an £85 victim surcharge.Banned from keeping dogs for 12 months.

Yorkshire Post

Bridgwater, Somerset: Martin Veysey

#TheList Martin Veysey, born c. 1955, of 6 Albert Court, Albert Street, Bridgwater, Somerset TA6 7ET – breached a previous life ban on keeping animals imposed on him in 2011

Veysey pleaded guilty to six charges under the Animal Welfare Act and the Cattle Identification Regulations on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 at Taunton Crown Court.

Veysey was banned for life from keeping animals in 2011 after he was prosecuted for causing unnecessary suffering and failing to provide appropriate care for his animals.

The latest prosecution was brought by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service and related to the purchase, transport and ownership of cattle obtained from markets in the South West.

Charges also related to a pony and an American bulldog owned by Veysey.

Veysey was also found guilty for failing to report and record the movements of cattle and failing to surrender the passports of cattle to Defra’s British Cattle Movement Service.

The court heard that the prosecution followed an investigation by Trading Standards officers.

Officers gathered intelligence from several sources including from members of the public, who responded to adverts he had placed to sell animals, as well as the RSPCA, livestock auctioneers and landowners who had witnessed his involvement with animals.

In sentencing Veysey, the judge told him that ‘the legislation is intended to protect animals from cowboys like you’ and warned him any further breaches would mean that he would go to prison.

Sentencing: eight-month prison sentence suspended for two years. Costs of £2,115.


Chelmsley Wood, Solihull: Julian A Bradbury

#TheList Julian A Bradbury, born c. 1971, of Somerville House, Waterson Croft, Solihull B37 6TY – left dogs to die in a baking car and buried their bodies in a field

Julian Bradbury pictured outside court.

Julian Bradbury admitted causing unnecessary suffering to  West Highland Terriers Ted and Poppy after leaving them inside his car for nearly 80 minutes in 26C temperatures. The incident took place on the day of an England World Cup game.

Bradbury said he simply forgot the “family members”  were in the car.

CCTV footage shown during the court hearing showed Bradbury, wearing an England football shirt, returning to his vehicle at 4.42pm – some 78 minutes after parking up near his home.

One of the dogs appeared limp and the other panted and gasped for air, the court heard.

Bradbury grabbed both pets before attempting to resuscitate and give mouth-to-mouth to the dog, which appeared motionless.

It was claimed the lorry driver put both dogs in the bath but they died of severe hypothermia.

At 10.25pm that evening, Bradbury was seen leaving the block of flats where he lived with both terriers wrapped in a bundle.

During an interview, he said he was taking their bodies to a garage.

He told the investigation he buried the dogs in a nearby field the next day.

The bodies were dug up as part of an RSPCA probe triggered when CCTV footage was reviewed by council officials looking into complaints of dog fouling in the flats.

Rafe Turner, prosecuting, explained how body temperatures of dogs reaching 43 degrees or more lead to multiple organ failure and death.

“The defendant was ultimately interviewed and, it’s fair to say, he was forthcoming,” Mr Turner said.

“He didn’t give an explanation yet both dogs were left for 78 minutes.

“He mentioned it wasn’t his normal routine and he had difficulty with his children, saying he thought it had been half-an-hour.

“He simply said: ‘I forgot’ and while he was remorseful and clearly upset, he didn’t offer an explanation.

“Considering a vets was close by, why didn’t he take dogs for further treatment? It would have been a few minutes in the car at most.

“But he didn’t and accepted he later wrapped up the dogs and had taken them to a garage to bury them.”

Summing up, District Judge Ian Strongman told Bradbury: “I accept you didn’t deliberately cause this suffering to the dogs.

“Your history of care of dogs is such that you just forgot they were there.

“It was a very hot day. The car would have been extremely hot when you first got in prior to collecting your son.

“The dogs would have been distressed by the car, yet you were stupid enough to leave them for over an hour.

“You showed an awfully low level of care to the animals.”

RSPCA inspector Herchy Boal, who investigated the case, said: “These dogs were left in the full view of the sun during the heat wave for one hour and 18 minutes so they must have suffered a long and lingering decline.

“It was the day when England played Croatia in a World Cup match in the evening and people will, I am sure, recall it was very hot.

“The RSPCA’s annual campaign ‘Dogs Die in Hot Cars’ states how you should never leave your dog in a parked car for even a few minutes as they become dangerously hot very rapidly so to leave them for such a long period is terrible.

“A vet said these dogs would have started suffering within a few minutes and their suffering would have been protracted.”

Sentencing: total of £885 fines, costs and charges. Banned from  keeping animals for life.