THE cash-strapped owners of two elderly dogs were forced to take their pets to an animal sanctuary because they could not afford to look after them, a court heard.

Unemployed Caroline Petch, 21, and her 48-year-old mother Adelaine Petch, both of Warwick Drive, Endmoor, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Animal Welfare Act, at South Lakeland Magistrates’ Court.


One of the dogs, a 13-year-old collie called Merlin, weighed just 14.9kg and was so emaciated its bones stuck out from its body.

Another, a 14-year-old female terrier called Pippa, had a seven by seven centimetre infected cyst on her chest after months of neglect, the court was told.

“Merlin sustained a period of inadequate feeding,” said Steven Marsh, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA. He added that tests by a vet had determined the dog’s ‘nutritional needs had not been met for a minimum of two weeks’.

The vet also said Pippa’s cyst ‘did not appear overnight’, and would have been ‘uncomfortable and caused suffering for a number of months’, said Mr Marsh.

The court heard the dogs were taken to Wainwright’s Sanctuary, at Grayrigg, on January 12 this year.

Following a feeding regime, Merlin had gained 11kg by March 19, and Pippa’s cyst was surgically removed following a course of antibiotics.

The state of the dogs saw staff at the shelter contact the RSPCA who spoke to the owners.

In interview Petch Snr, who works as a carer, said they had taken Pippa to the vet about the cyst.

She said they paid for a course of antibiotics, but could not afford a new dosage when they ran out.

She also said she had ‘no concern’ over Merlin’s weight, but when shown the photographs she was ‘disgusted’.

In mitigation, Paul Williams said the family’s finances became stretched when Petch Snr’s husband left, and Petch Jnr had a baby boy.

He said they paid £43 to treat the cyst, but soon realised they had no cash to pay for more treatment.

“The right thing to do would have been to give the dog up there and then but, of course, people have emotional attachments to dogs,” he said.

“This was not a deliberate attempt to harm the dogs. It was neglect.”

Speaking after the case, Inspector Chris Towler, of the RSPCA, said: “This case highlights the need to ensure that veterinary treatment and suitable nutritional care is provided, and that finance should be considered in looking after a pet for all its life.

“Both dogs have responded well to the good care at the sanctuary, and I am grateful for their welfare work in this case.”

The pair were charged with causing unnecessary suffering to Merlin over a two-week period from December 29, 2013 to January 12 this year, and also failing to meet the needs of Pippa from July 12 2013 to January 12 this year.

Petch Jnr was given a curfew to last for four months running from 4pm to 12am. Petch Snr was ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work.