#TheList Elisabeth Steel, born c. 1975, of Methven Avenue, Kilmarnock KA1 – gagged her pet with duct tape to go on holiday for the weekend
Elizabeth Steel abandoned collie cross Rio without adequate food or water after covering his face with a taped-on muzzle so he could not bark.
Steel’s neighbours alerted police after hearing the animal whimpering and spotting him through a window. Officers forced entry and found the dog barely moving and in very poor condition. He was infested with fleas, suffering from sores and an untreated skin infection.
Steel admitted causing unnecessary suffering by taping a muzzle to the dog’s face, denying him food, water or a means of escape, and failing to provide adequate care and treatment between 18 and 19 July, 2019.
Blaire Ford, prosecuting, said an upstairs neighbour could hear whimpering below and knew Steel had left the day before for a weekend away.
Miss Ford added: “He looked through the kitchen window and observed the dog locked within the kitchen with a muzzle on, which was wrapped with black tape, and noted that there was no food or water.”
The man called the Scottish SPCA, which was unable to respond initially, before contacting police the following day. Officers broke in using a battering ram after seeing Rio lying motionless.
Miss Ford said: “The dog was alive and had begun to move around and police noted there was no food or water in the dog bowls.
“The dog was wearing a muzzle wrapped in black tape and had a collar on which was too tight.”
Rio was taken to a vet for treatment, found temporary refuge and has since been re-homed.
Sheriff Watson told Steel: “On reading the terms of the report I am persuaded you are a foolish person who has behaved disgracefully towards the animal, but not with a cruel intention.
“You are clearly not a suitable person to own or have charge of an animal for the long-term.
“You and animals will not be coming close for the near future.”
Scottish SPCA Ch Supt Mike Flynn said: “Whilst we always look for a lifetime ban on keeping animals in cases of neglect like this, we are pleased the accused has received a 15-year ban.
“We hope Steel will seriously consider her ability to care for any other pets in the future.”
Sentencing: 80-day tagging order; 18-month supervision order. 15-year ban on keeping animals.
#TheList Thomas McKnight, born c.1965, of St Andrews Walk, Kilmarnock KA1 3HQ – failed to take dog that had been injured by boiling water to the vet for five days
The court heard how, on July 16, 2018, McKnight called the Scottish SPCA helpline to request assistance.
He told operators he had spilled boiling water on Springer spaniel Bobby five days earlier, and – because he couldn’t afford vet fees – he had tried to treat the dog’s wounds at home.
He also told the call handler Bobby’s situation was “getting worse” as the wounds had blistered and become infected, with the dog said to be “in pain”.
McKnight was looking for the SSPCA to treat the dog and said he would give up ownership of Bobby.
The SSPCA inspector visited McKnight’s home later that afternoon where he found the dog to be “subdued, weak and lethargic.”
Bobby had bandages covering his torso and most of his back. The inspector tried to remove the bandages to see the wound, but was only able to remove one as the other was stuck to the dog’s skin and this was causing him pain.
Bobby was taken to a local vet where he was given pain relief, general anaesthetic and antibiotics.
It was stated that the wounds would likely take “some time” to heal.
It was the SSPCA inspector’s view that the dog was subject of “unnecessary suffering” and McKnight was cautioned and charged.
Defending, Gillian Swanney told how the dog had now been treated, made a full recovery and been re-homed.
Ms Swanney told how McKnight had been cooking in the kitchen on the day of the incident, and the dog came in and “startled” him whilst he had the kettle in his hand.
She added, McKnight immediately took the dog outside and poured water over him. He then bought bandages and antiseptic powder to try to treat the dog’s wounds.
However, over the days, the condition deteriorated.
Swanney confirmed McKnight had “no intention to get another dog.”
Sheriff Michael Hanlon said: “I’ll take into account that this incident began by an accident.”
Sentencing: fined £300 to be paid at £10 per fortnight, Banned from owning any animal for three years.
#TheList vet John Hendrie Smith, born 20/05/1929, of Galston, East Ayrshire KA4 – left 200 dogs howling in agony as they died from an outdated euthanasia injection to the heart
Hendrie Smith, who has been a vet for nearly 65 years, was investigated after an owner complained. Shockingly, he was found to have used the controversial technique on hundreds of helpless animals at the Valley Veterinary Centre in Galston, Ayrshire.
#TheList breeder Elaine Erskine, born 13/02/1960, formerly of East Lodge, Craufurdland, Kilmarnock KA3, but now apparently living in a caravan in Fenwick Road, Stewarton, East Ayrshire – lived in a faeces-infested house with 27 dogs, some of whom were “on the brink of death” after she had failed to give them food, water and bedding for six months.
Erskine lived in squalor with 27 dogs in conditions so bad that three of the animals had to be put down.
Images taken at the scene of horror showed two German Shepherds lying in their own filth in a bungalow where Elaine Erskine kept 27 dogs in shocking squalor. The German Shepherds, named Arti and Rosie, were covered in open sores and too weak to lift their heads off the floor.
One was put to sleep on the spot and the other was euthanised later along with a Jack Russell found at the house wounded and in distress.
Other photos show cages where dogs were locked up and rooms buried under rubbish and faeces.
Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard how Scottish SPCA sinspectors found animals emaciated and “on the brink of death” when they went to Erskine’s house, after a tip-off about animal neglect.
They got no answer when they arrived. But when they went round the back they found makeshift kennels that housed ten Jack Russells and a squalid, empty outhouse.
The inspectors peered inside the property through patio doors and spotted two German Shepherd dogs and one Jack Russell standing inside a “filthy” kitchen.
When they looked in other windows they spotted three more Jack Russells in an empty room with dog dirt covering the floor.
The inspectors feared the animals were at great risk of suffering and left a card asking the owner to contact them immediately.
When they got no response they returned the next day with a vet and armed with a warrant to get into the property.
As they opened the front door they were immediately hit by a foul stench of urine and faeces.
It was so strong that one inspector had to go out for fresh air and to clear her stinging eyes.
Once inside the house, the team moved from one squalid room to the next — finding more and more neglected dogs badly malnourished, emaciated and covered in their own muck.
They could hardly get into the kitchen because of a mountain of rubbish behind the door.
When they finally got in they discovered the two German Shepherds and four Jack Russells.
The court heard the dogs were in a pitiful state, with one so poorly that they had to be put down on the spot.
And prosecutors said when Erskine arrived at the scene she tried to stop inspectors looking for more dogs.
Fiscal Jennifer Harkins told the court: “In the kitchen there were two adult German Shepherds and a small Pomeranian.
“They were unable to lift their heads and had open sores. At this point the police arrived.
“The accused was spoken to by inspectors but she blocked access to stop them examining the two German Shepherds.
“She stated that she was so ashamed and that she ‘knew that the dogs would need to be put to sleep as they were in a bad way’.
“One of the two German Shepherds was immediately euthanised and the accused became upset.”
Ms Harkins said of the further searches on March 28, 2018: “The main bedroom was the last room to be entered and had two Jack Russells within a cage and a further two pups in another cage.
“A Pomeranian with three small pups was also in a cage.”
The prosecutor went on to talk about another dog that was found to be suffering from a leg fracture and skin ulcers.
She added: “There was another Jack Russell wedged between the cages.
“This dog had extremely bad wounds to both back legs and the bones were clearly visible.
“It was in a great deal of distress and emaciated and was immediately removed from the property.”
Erskine’s defence lawyer Douglas Macphee told the court his client had been living in the same conditions as the animals.
He said: “She accepts full responsibility for these matters. She is very ashamed. She found herself in a position where she struggled to cope and then she couldn’t cope.
“She continued to live in the property notwithstanding the conditions.”
Erskine admitted failing to give the dogs food, water and bedding between December 2017 and March 2018.
Sentencing Erskine to 14 weeks in prison [overturned on 05/12/18], Sheriff Michael Hanlon told her: “This was as bad an example as I’ve ever come across.”
But Erskine’s lawyer appealed against the decision, arguing there were alternatives to custody as a punishment.
Erskine was freed pending the result of that appeal which was ultimately successful.
Sentencing: Jailed for 14 weeks (later overturned on appeal). 200 hours of community service. Banned for life from keeping animals.
#TheList Zara Brown (aka Zara Prentice or Zara Rooney), born 06/01/1988, of New Cottages, Patna, Ayr KA6 7JF – for appalling acts of cruelty and neglect towards homeless pets at her rehoming charity, Ayrshire Ark
Pet rescue owner Zara Brown failed to give dogs in her care adequate food and water and she abandoned them in a filthy derelict primary school with no lights.
Some of the animals were left to die in the building and she stored several of the carcasses in a chest freezer.
In all, authorities found 16 dead pets – 15 dogs and one cat – and many more with untreated conditions including a broken bone, arthritis, ear and paw infections, pressure sores and ulcers.
Several dogs believed to be in the care of the Ayrshire Ark remain unaccounted for to this day with Brown refusing to reveal their fates to their distraught former owners.
In August 2017 mother-of-four Brown appeared in the dock at Ayr Sheriff Court.
Depute fiscal Jason Bell told the court how a Scottish SPCA inspector discovered a scene of horror at the Ayrshire Ark shelter, including a stash of seven dogs and a cat in a freezer, some of whom were badly mutilated.
The charity visited the sanctuary, housed in a derelict schoolhouse in Patna, after receiving reports that a Presa Canario cross named Ozzy was lying dead on the floor.
Mr Bell revealed the Scottish SPCA inspector and police had to wait four hours to gain access because Brown wasn’t there and partner Gary Rooney, who part-owns the building, claimed not to have keys.
During the delay, the welfare team peered through a window and saw dead Ozzy slumped on the floor and other dogs in bad health. One very thin dog appeared to be standing in her own filth, without food or water, in a cloakroom.
The depute fiscal went on: “They could see two large bulldog-type dogs clambering over rubbish and debris — they appeared to be running freely in the corridor and in poor condition.
“They also noticed a large dog within one of the former classrooms that appeared lifeless. It was very underweight.
“They tried to rouse it by banging on the window and it appeared the dog was clearly dead.”
Brown finally appeared from the back of the former school at around 11pm and let the authorities inside.
The court heard the “overpowering” stench of faeces and urine made them gag as they made their way through the unlit building, where they stumbled across an animal in a cage.
Mr Bell said: “They noticed the bulldog-type dogs which had been viewed earlier in the corridor appeared to have been secured in a classroom before entry had been gained by the witnesses.
“They located a chest freezer and within were seven dead dog carcasses and a dead cat.”
The mercy crew searched for the lifeless dog they’d spotted through a window — but it had vanished.
Mr Bell said: “There were visible drag marks indicating it had been moved.”
Two more underweight dogs were in a classroom, while a third dog was found “weak and struggling to stand” in a toilet area, despite having access to food and water.
Mr Bell said: “They entered a further room and found a dead dog behind the door. Zara Brown stated she knew this dog as Bruce.
“The inspector formed the opinion the dogs were suffering. They had poor body condition, bones clearly visible. Their living conditions were woefully inadequate with regards to cleanliness.”
Nine dogs were signed over to the Scottish SPCA by Brown and taken to their vet in Glasgow.
They were found to be malnourished with a range of health issues. Bulldog Primo — who also had inflammation of the ears and feet — had to be put to sleep.
The court heard welfare chiefs attempted to interview Brown on December 29, 2017, but she failed to show.
Brown, who also has a conviction for VAT fraud, admitted nine charges of failing to properly feed dogs in her care or treat their health problems, leaving them suffering malnutrition, weight loss, lameness, infections and ulcers.
Defence lawyer Euan Cameron had pleaded for Brown to dodge jail for the sake of her four kids, but Sheriff Mhairi MacTaggart told her: “Such is the gravity of the offences, only a custodial sentence is appropriate.”
After the sentencing, Scottish SPCA inspector Leanne McPake said: “This case was particularly harrowing and will stay with us for a long time.”
As at late 2018 Brown is believed to be living in Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway DG7.
Sentencing: Seven months in jail. Banned for life from keeping animals
#TheList Tony Barbara, born 23/09/1964, of 31 High Street, Newmilns, East Ayrshire KA16 9EB – a convicted dog fighter who defied his ban on keeping dogs and went on to commit further cruelty offences
In February 2013 Tony Barbara was convicted of training pit bull terriers for illegal fights. Barbara had trained two pit bull terriers called Elaine and Susie and a bull terrier called Gerald for fighting and subjected two of the animals to a catalogue of suffering. He also attempted to carry out DIY treatment on their injuries in case his actions were discovered by the authorities.
Barbara, who was linked to the Essex underworld, moved to Scotland after receiving a suspended jail sentence and 10-year dog ban.
He resumed his activities within months but was arrested after the Scottish SPCA raided his home in November 2014 and found two injured pit bulls and equipment linked to the illegal activity.
Barbara was found guilty of six charges including breaching the Dangerous Dogs Act by keeping two female pit bull terriers for fighting, having syringes and medications, possessing “breaking sticks” for fights and causing the animals unnecessary suffering by failing to provide adequate care and treatment.
His solicitor, James Arrol, said heavily-tattooed Barbara was “a man who has a number of psychiatric and health difficulties”.
Scottish SPCA inspector Hannah Medley said Barbara spoke “freely and openly”, using dog-fighting terminology and explaining the terms and rules.
Ms Medley added: “He told us he had been dog-fighting for the last 20 to 30 years and had only seen one dog die, and that when a dog was dying it was still wagging its tail when it died.”
Ms Medley said Barbara described the “etiquette of dog fighting” and used its terminology, such as scratch lines, pits and coming up to scratch.
“He was talking about dog breeds and his fascination with bull breeds”, she said, adding Barbara described knowing vets who would teach how to treat injuries and self-medicate dogs.
After his arrest, Barbara gave “no comment” responses when asked why he had veterinary medication used specifically to treat dog injuries and syringes containing milky liquid.
He also refused to comment on whether the dogs had been identified as American Pit Bull terriers, which are strictly regulated, and attributed scars and injuries to “dives into bushes after rabbits”.
Police and animal welfare inspectors found a “flesh stapler”, a training “flirt pole” and notebooks with accounts of the fights at his previous home in Dagenham, Essex, in 2011, his earlier trial heard.
Sentencing: Jailed for 8 months and banned from keeping dogs for life.
#TheList Alexander Spence and Sheena Spence (also known as Sheena Percival) of West Bromwich, and more recently Hopes Avenue, Dalmellington, Ayr KA6 7RN – battered a Scottie dog nearly to death before throwing him off a 5th floor balcony
An older case but this unbelievably callous couple NEED to be included in our database. Both are now in their early 70s and, sadly, it would appear that neither has popped their clogs yet.
The Spences were looking after black Scottish terrier Laddie while his elderly owner Nancy Howells was critically ill in hospital.
They told the RSPCA they had lashed out after Laddie bit Mrs Spence on the ankle.
The couple, who were drunk at the time, admitted hitting the dog between two and three times each, causing him to hit a door, before Mrs Spence threw him from the balcony of their flat.
Laddie suffered bruising to the left side of his body, internal bleeding and injuries to internal organs, including a torn liver and kidney damage.
A veterinary surgeon said his injuries were consistent with being beaten rather than a fall and that he was probably “dead or dying” when thrown from the balcony. He estimated that Laddie had undergone a 10-minute ordeal of pain before dying.
Mrs Howells’ daughter told the RSPCA how she received a “curious call” from Mr Spence in which he said: “Hello Pat, the dog has bitten me and Sheena… do you want me to finish him off over the balcony?”
Later, Mrs Spence told Mrs Howells’ son-in-law in a telephone call: “The dog will be OK but that is if he doesn’t come by an accident first.”
When Mrs Howells’ grandson arrived at the couple’s house the following day to collect the dog Sheena Spence handed over the collar and lead, telling him the animal had run away.
Laddie was found by a neighbour who called the council, which then alerted the RSPCA.
Mrs Howells died later the same month and her family said outside court they were never able to tell her what happened to her dog.
Sentence: jailed for 12 weeks and disqualified from keeping animals for life. That sentence was later reduced to 10 weeks suspended for a year and their disqualification order reduced to just 12 months