A shameless pet owner who caused unnecessary suffering to his “wretched dog”, which led to its death, has been lucky to avoid jail according to the judge who sentenced him.
David Littlefair pled guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal after his pet dog, called Pippa, had to be put down.
On August 1 last year the Facebook account of Littlefair’s partner sent a message to the local RSPCA asking for help with the sick dog.
Part of the message sent read: “My dog needs putting down, but I have no money.”
Pippa was flea-ridden, covered in scabs, had faecal matter on its tail and was suffering fits.
Sadly, the dog had another seizure while in the car on the way to the vets and died en route, according to Hull Daily Mail.
David Littlefair, 37, of Percy Street, Goole, was sentenced on Tuesday March 15 at Hull Magistrates’ Court.
“As she entered the property, she noticed a hole had been dug in the garden,” said Mr Brown for the prosecution, referring to the day the RSPCA volunteer with 20 years experience turned up to assess the dog after Littlefair’s partner’s messages on Facebook.
The RSPCA agreed to pay for emergency treatment, but Pippa suffered a fatal seizure on the way to the vets. Pippa had been wrapped up tightly in a blanket, which was found to be flea-ridden.
“She was distressed by its poor condition that she did not want to examine the animal too carefully,” Mr Brown said.
However, the initial check she carried out upon its death found that Pippa had clout around the back end, a black substance around the ears and there was “a very strong smell, as though something had gone off”.
A further examination by the RSPCA inspector found that the dog had a very poor body condition.
David Littlefair had earlier been convicted after pleading guilty of cause unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
He was issued with a two year community order and ordered to do 300 hours of unpaid work and received a scathing dressing down from the presiding magistrate chair.
A further examination by the RSPCA inspector found that the dog had “a very poor body condition”. Though the dog had a thick coat, its ribs could be clearly seen.
There were numerous sores which appeared to be scabbed, a substantial amount of faecal matter on the tail, and a yellow to brown substance oozing from both ears.
The animal was then seized by Humberside Police, on the RSPCA’s request, for evidence. A veterinary doctor carried out a further medical assessment and rated Pippa the dog two out of nine on a scale where one is emaciated and nine is obese.
The vet believed that flagging or crusting of the dog was a longstanding issue and that self-trauma found to the skin could have been an allergic reaction, possibly to the flea infestation the animal suffered.
The gunk from the ears was identified by the vet as being caused by inflammation.
This “would have been a very painful condition” for the dog, the court was told.
There was also severe gingivitis. Mr Brown said the vet had described this as ‘a condition which would have progressed over many months and would have caused problems which should have been obvious to a reasonable dog owner.’
The dog also suffered from dry eye in its right eye, which without medication, would have caused significant discomfort over a long period of time.
The vet concluded that the dog had been in poor condition for a number of reasons, the most critical of which was likely to have been dehydration.
An aggravating factor cited by the prosecution was that Littlefair’s partner originally contacted the local RSPCA in March 2021, seeking help and guidance for Pippa’s care.
The RSPCA paid £60 towards a vet consultation, carried out in April, at which advice was given and medication prescribed, the court heard. But the medication was never picked up, including eye drops.
“He accepts he has failed to ensure the animal received appropriate care,” said Miss Johnson in mitigation. Littlefair considered that he had difficulties looking after himself and felt he had lacked the financial wherewithal to look after the dog.
“Mr Littlefair is absolutely devastated by what happened. He tells me it’s something he’s not going to get over,” Miss Johnson added.
It was also heard that the dog had belonged to Littlefair’s ex-partner and then ended up with him to look after in December 2020, which was not a situation he had wanted, the court heard.
He had also admitted guilt at the first opportunity and had no previous convictions and it was claimed that he did not realise that the dog was suffering until near the end.
Littlefair was given a two year community order with 15 days of rehabilitation activity requirements and ordered to do 300 hours of unpaid community work. He was also fined £445, made up of £350 in prosecution costs and a £95 surcharge.
Littlefair was also banned indefinitely from having any pet for a minimum of seven years before possible appeal. The presiding chair was scathing and indicated that had it been his decision alone on sentencing, he would have opted for immediate imprisonment.
“If you knew just how close you have come to an immediate custodial sentence, you would not have that smirking face,” said the presiding chair, who twice told Littlefair to be silent as he tried to speak up during sentencing remarks.
He also gave the financial difficulties cited in mitigation short shrift, stating that the defendant had money to spend on tattoos so could have paid for medical treatment of the dog, and that he was aware that a lack of treatment meant the dog’s condition would get worse.
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