Windermere woman fined for causing 'unnecessary suffering' to pet dog

Gatsby when he was first taken to the vets

Gatsby when he was first taken to the vets

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A WOMAN who hid her dog’s skin infection to avoid a vet bill has been fined more than £2,000 and banned from keeping pets.

Carol Maher, of Broad Street, Windermere, appeared in court for causing ‘unnecessary suffering’ to 15-year-old German Shepherd, Gatsby, by covering up its ‘chronic’ infection with a dog coat while she administered internet-bought herbal remedies.

“The bills proved simply too expensive for this defendant,” said Darren Lee-Smith, in mitigation for mother-of-three, Ms Maher.

“It was not a deliberate attempt to hurt the dog but a failure without intent to get the correct treatment.”

But Steven Marsh, prosecuting for the RSPCA, told Kendal magistrates he was ‘concerned’ by Ms Maher’s attempts to cover up the dog’s sores.

“The dog’s whole body was covered,” he said.

“The dog was licking its sores so bacteria was getting in and it was getting worse.”

The court heard Ms Maher had previously had the dog treated for a flea infestation.

But when it strayed into a neighbour’s garden last summer it was suffering infections of the skin and both ears. The neighbour contacted the council and the RSPCA later became involved.

In a statement read in court, the vet who treated the dog said discharge from its sores had ‘stuck’ to the coat – and it had needed ‘prompt, aggressive treatment’ or it would have been put to sleep.

Gatsby has since recovered and been re-homed – but treatment, boarding and the prosecution of Ms Maher has cost the RSPCA more than £5,000.

Ms Maher, who works part-time at the Tourist Information Office in Windermere, initially pleaded not guilty to the charge of causing suffering to her pet.

But she changed her plea to guilty and Mr Lee-Smith said her ‘primary concern’ was the dog. However, magistrates banned her from keeping dogs for two years, fined her £2,060 and ordered her to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work.

“Obviously we’re pleased with the result,” RSPCA inspector Will Lamping said.

“Hopefully the disqualification will protect other dogs and over the next two years the defendant will consider her duty of care to any pets she may have in the future.”

Comments (11)

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9:20pm Tue 11 Mar 14

Vanah.Horses says...

Why didnt the rspca help with finding vet treatment for the sake of a few hundred pounds, rather than a few thousand in prosecuting?
Lack of common sense and ethics in many cases such as these instead of blatant animal abuse or cruelty.
What happened to the dog?
Why didnt the rspca help with finding vet treatment for the sake of a few hundred pounds, rather than a few thousand in prosecuting? Lack of common sense and ethics in many cases such as these instead of blatant animal abuse or cruelty. What happened to the dog? Vanah.Horses
  • Score: 2

10:48pm Tue 11 Mar 14

Kendmoor says...

Vanah, "Gatsby has since recovered and been re-homed". :)

I'm curious, I don't own pets, partly because I'm not partial to them and also because I know things like this can be expensive...very expensive.

If you have a dog, and cannot afford the treatment, what are your options?
Can you really give it away....would anyone take it? Sounds to me like you're stuck in a corner?
Vanah, "Gatsby has since recovered and been re-homed". :) I'm curious, I don't own pets, partly because I'm not partial to them and also because I know things like this can be expensive...very expensive. If you have a dog, and cannot afford the treatment, what are your options? Can you really give it away....would anyone take it? Sounds to me like you're stuck in a corner? Kendmoor
  • Score: 9

10:26am Wed 12 Mar 14

tictoc1 says...

Kendmoor wrote:
Vanah, "Gatsby has since recovered and been re-homed". :) I'm curious, I don't own pets, partly because I'm not partial to them and also because I know things like this can be expensive...very expensive. If you have a dog, and cannot afford the treatment, what are your options? Can you really give it away....would anyone take it? Sounds to me like you're stuck in a corner?
This is why there is such a thing as insurance! For a few pounds a month, it covers certain vet bills.
[quote][p][bold]Kendmoor[/bold] wrote: Vanah, "Gatsby has since recovered and been re-homed". :) I'm curious, I don't own pets, partly because I'm not partial to them and also because I know things like this can be expensive...very expensive. If you have a dog, and cannot afford the treatment, what are your options? Can you really give it away....would anyone take it? Sounds to me like you're stuck in a corner?[/p][/quote]This is why there is such a thing as insurance! For a few pounds a month, it covers certain vet bills. tictoc1
  • Score: 5

12:09pm Wed 12 Mar 14

MikeWil says...

tictoc1 wrote:
Kendmoor wrote:
Vanah, "Gatsby has since recovered and been re-homed". :) I'm curious, I don't own pets, partly because I'm not partial to them and also because I know things like this can be expensive...very expensive. If you have a dog, and cannot afford the treatment, what are your options? Can you really give it away....would anyone take it? Sounds to me like you're stuck in a corner?
This is why there is such a thing as insurance! For a few pounds a month, it covers certain vet bills.
Insurance is not the answer. it is expensive, stops just when the dog and its owner become elderly and income drops along with age related conditions setting in. It often has high excesses too.

The SHG has put together a page detailing all of the help available for people on low incomes or with financial difficulties to enable them to obtain veterinary treatment for their animals.

http://the-shg.org/D
oIneedavet.htm

Note that there is also an organisation that helps the elderly if they cannot cope with their animals. The Cinnamon Trust will walk a dog,groom it, ensure it gets to the vet etc if the elderly owner has become too frail or ill to do so themselves.

Pity the RSPCA prefer to grab the animal instead of helping, not caring if the poor thing is grieving for the owner it loves not understanding why it has been abandoned, and then prosecutes - for the publicity value perhaps?

If you care about animals and people give your money and support to the Cinnamon Trust, not the RSPCA.

http://www.cinnamon.
org.uk/
[quote][p][bold]tictoc1[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Kendmoor[/bold] wrote: Vanah, "Gatsby has since recovered and been re-homed". :) I'm curious, I don't own pets, partly because I'm not partial to them and also because I know things like this can be expensive...very expensive. If you have a dog, and cannot afford the treatment, what are your options? Can you really give it away....would anyone take it? Sounds to me like you're stuck in a corner?[/p][/quote]This is why there is such a thing as insurance! For a few pounds a month, it covers certain vet bills.[/p][/quote]Insurance is not the answer. it is expensive, stops just when the dog and its owner become elderly and income drops along with age related conditions setting in. It often has high excesses too. The SHG has put together a page detailing all of the help available for people on low incomes or with financial difficulties to enable them to obtain veterinary treatment for their animals. http://the-shg.org/D oIneedavet.htm Note that there is also an organisation that helps the elderly if they cannot cope with their animals. The Cinnamon Trust will walk a dog,groom it, ensure it gets to the vet etc if the elderly owner has become too frail or ill to do so themselves. Pity the RSPCA prefer to grab the animal instead of helping, not caring if the poor thing is grieving for the owner it loves not understanding why it has been abandoned, and then prosecutes - for the publicity value perhaps? If you care about animals and people give your money and support to the Cinnamon Trust, not the RSPCA. http://www.cinnamon. org.uk/ MikeWil
  • Score: -13

4:36pm Wed 12 Mar 14

jazzactivist says...

The Cinnamon Trust sounds very interesting, MikeWil. I agree with the comments of others here that this sounds like a case where the RSPCA went overboard in prosecuting someone who wasn't maliciously harming her dog, but just couldn't cope with the worry of its illness and potential vets bills and tried to cover up and ignor the problem. There are plenty of people to prosecute who are deliberately cruel to animals and/or neglectful, so it would have been better of the RSPCA had helped the dog and its owner. I also don't think we need to know how much the RSPCA spent on this prosecution, as that's what they are meant to spend their money on.

Insurance is useful when your dog is young, and isn't all that expensive - I pay £11 per month for my 3 year old dog - but many vets also offer the opportunity to pay bills by installments. Some people are too shy to ask, but vet bills can be very expensive and no decent will turn away an animal that needs treatment and a plan can always be worked out.
The Cinnamon Trust sounds very interesting, MikeWil. I agree with the comments of others here that this sounds like a case where the RSPCA went overboard in prosecuting someone who wasn't maliciously harming her dog, but just couldn't cope with the worry of its illness and potential vets bills and tried to cover up and ignor the problem. There are plenty of people to prosecute who are deliberately cruel to animals and/or neglectful, so it would have been better of the RSPCA had helped the dog and its owner. I also don't think we need to know how much the RSPCA spent on this prosecution, as that's what they are meant to spend their money on. Insurance is useful when your dog is young, and isn't all that expensive - I pay £11 per month for my 3 year old dog - but many vets also offer the opportunity to pay bills by installments. Some people are too shy to ask, but vet bills can be very expensive and no decent will turn away an animal that needs treatment and a plan can always be worked out. jazzactivist
  • Score: -26

5:50pm Wed 12 Mar 14

archiebored says...

why is everyone having a pop at the rspca?
the owner has caused the dog to suffer through neglect she tried to hide it. by the time the rspca became involved the dog was already suffering. they cannot help if they are unaware and the owner has made no effort to find help.l.
a lot of the costs will have been vets bills and boarding caused by the owners inability to care for their dog as required by law.
ps
nice of the cinammon trust to try and get free publicity on the back of an animals suffering!
why is everyone having a pop at the rspca? the owner has caused the dog to suffer through neglect she tried to hide it. by the time the rspca became involved the dog was already suffering. they cannot help if they are unaware and the owner has made no effort to find help.l. a lot of the costs will have been vets bills and boarding caused by the owners inability to care for their dog as required by law. ps nice of the cinammon trust to try and get free publicity on the back of an animals suffering! archiebored
  • Score: 18

8:19pm Wed 12 Mar 14

lakelandcitygirl says...

The RSPCA westmorland will subsidise vet bills to those who are low income. Also the RSPCA has clinics in both kendal and preston who give vet treatment at cost- v easy to contact RSPCA the address is on the website. she really couldnt afford these vet bills then she could have surrendered the dog to the wainwright shelter. Everyone knows fine well that when you get a dog you have a duty of care to protect and care. Even if that giving up the dog due to financial circumstances. A quick google search brought that up.Why is everyone criticising the RSPCA sure maybe a fine to someone who clearly cant pay it isnt the most constructive outcome but she knew what was going on and she tried to conceal it. In doing so she prolonged a condition and caused alot if distress to her dog.
The RSPCA westmorland will subsidise vet bills to those who are low income. Also the RSPCA has clinics in both kendal and preston who give vet treatment at cost- v easy to contact RSPCA the address is on the website. she really couldnt afford these vet bills then she could have surrendered the dog to the wainwright shelter. Everyone knows fine well that when you get a dog you have a duty of care to protect and care. Even if that giving up the dog due to financial circumstances. A quick google search brought that up.Why is everyone criticising the RSPCA sure maybe a fine to someone who clearly cant pay it isnt the most constructive outcome but she knew what was going on and she tried to conceal it. In doing so she prolonged a condition and caused alot if distress to her dog. lakelandcitygirl
  • Score: 19

1:23pm Thu 13 Mar 14

jazzactivist says...

I am an animal lover with a rescue dog, and support animal charities, but I have to say that the few times I have been involved with the RSPCA I've been unimpressed. They are very strict about what sorts of animal issues they investigate. I have reported a couple of instances where animals were clearly in distress only to be told that what was going on wasn't against the law and the RSPCA can't intervene. Yet when I contacted different animal charities they said that wasn't the case and did the work. I have also noticed that the RSPCA seems to do the minimum necessary in large cases - eg monitoring until animals are really suffering and then taking them into care / destroying them, but then seems to overdo it on the small cases. I'm not sure if it isn't a bit too large and bureaucratic to deal with smaller, more local animal welfare issues.
I am an animal lover with a rescue dog, and support animal charities, but I have to say that the few times I have been involved with the RSPCA I've been unimpressed. They are very strict about what sorts of animal issues they investigate. I have reported a couple of instances where animals were clearly in distress only to be told that what was going on wasn't against the law and the RSPCA can't intervene. Yet when I contacted different animal charities they said that wasn't the case and did the work. I have also noticed that the RSPCA seems to do the minimum necessary in large cases - eg monitoring until animals are really suffering and then taking them into care / destroying them, but then seems to overdo it on the small cases. I'm not sure if it isn't a bit too large and bureaucratic to deal with smaller, more local animal welfare issues. jazzactivist
  • Score: -13

2:52pm Thu 13 Mar 14

Cas220 says...

jazzactivist wrote:
I am an animal lover with a rescue dog, and support animal charities, but I have to say that the few times I have been involved with the RSPCA I've been unimpressed. They are very strict about what sorts of animal issues they investigate. I have reported a couple of instances where animals were clearly in distress only to be told that what was going on wasn't against the law and the RSPCA can't intervene. Yet when I contacted different animal charities they said that wasn't the case and did the work. I have also noticed that the RSPCA seems to do the minimum necessary in large cases - eg monitoring until animals are really suffering and then taking them into care / destroying them, but then seems to overdo it on the small cases. I'm not sure if it isn't a bit too large and bureaucratic to deal with smaller, more local animal welfare issues.
The RSPCA cannot take action until the law is broken, otherwise they will be breaking the law (blame the lawmakers not the RSPCA, they are currently in the process of trying to change the law but it's not happening very fast.), smaller organisations may be willing to 'take the law into their own hands' for the sake of the animal, and that's fine but the RSPCA would be undermining their whole ethos if they did. It would also make it very difficult for them to prosecute, if a defence lawyer brings up the fact the RSPCA broke the law the whole case would break down and the abusers would get away with it over and over again.
[quote][p][bold]jazzactivist[/bold] wrote: I am an animal lover with a rescue dog, and support animal charities, but I have to say that the few times I have been involved with the RSPCA I've been unimpressed. They are very strict about what sorts of animal issues they investigate. I have reported a couple of instances where animals were clearly in distress only to be told that what was going on wasn't against the law and the RSPCA can't intervene. Yet when I contacted different animal charities they said that wasn't the case and did the work. I have also noticed that the RSPCA seems to do the minimum necessary in large cases - eg monitoring until animals are really suffering and then taking them into care / destroying them, but then seems to overdo it on the small cases. I'm not sure if it isn't a bit too large and bureaucratic to deal with smaller, more local animal welfare issues.[/p][/quote]The RSPCA cannot take action until the law is broken, otherwise they will be breaking the law (blame the lawmakers not the RSPCA, they are currently in the process of trying to change the law but it's not happening very fast.), smaller organisations may be willing to 'take the law into their own hands' for the sake of the animal, and that's fine but the RSPCA would be undermining their whole ethos if they did. It would also make it very difficult for them to prosecute, if a defence lawyer brings up the fact the RSPCA broke the law the whole case would break down and the abusers would get away with it over and over again. Cas220
  • Score: 8

11:41am Fri 14 Mar 14

PropMeUpWithTeabags says...

The RSPCA are a waste of space. I currently work with an animal charity and have to say we nearly always get calls from people who cannot get hold of the RSPCA. They also put animals to sleep if we dont take them in.
The RSPCA are a waste of space. I currently work with an animal charity and have to say we nearly always get calls from people who cannot get hold of the RSPCA. They also put animals to sleep if we dont take them in. PropMeUpWithTeabags
  • Score: -3

6:09pm Fri 14 Mar 14

jazzactivist says...

Sorry Cas220, but the RSPCA is a charitable organisation, not part of the State-run emergency services, but it acts as if it is. I would rather action is taken to resolve the problem and protect the animal than base it on whether a successful prosecution is likely. Prevention is surely better than cure?
Sorry Cas220, but the RSPCA is a charitable organisation, not part of the State-run emergency services, but it acts as if it is. I would rather action is taken to resolve the problem and protect the animal than base it on whether a successful prosecution is likely. Prevention is surely better than cure? jazzactivist
  • Score: -6

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