A CRUEL dog owner bound her pet’s mouth with gaffer tape – leaving it unable to eat, drink, or breathe properly.
Heartless Cheryl Massey also left the female cross-breed dog called Trixie cooped up in a smelly, faeces-ridden, blacked-out coal house.
The dog’s plight came to light when the RSPCA received a tip-off from someone who had seen the dog’s tightly-bound makeshift muzzle – and raised concerns about the conditions the animal was living in at the back of Massey’s home, in Jowitt Road, West View, Hartlepool.
The shocked onlooker snapped a picture and sent it to the animal welfare organisation, and an inspector was sent to investigate.
The dog was found in the “filthy” coal-house, this time with its mouth free, and Massey denied it had ever had been bound because that would have been “cruel” – until she was shown the photograph.
She then admitted that she had put the tape on to stop the dog from barking when she went out shopping.
The 56-year-old, now of the town’s Mitchell Street, appeared before Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the needs of the dog, in that she failed to meet its need to be able to express normal behaviour patterns due to the inappropriate use of mouth restraints between June 21 and June 23 last year.
Chairman of the bench, Barbara Sutherland, banned her from keeping animals for a year, and slapped her with a £561.23 court bill, made up of £446.23 costs, a £100 fine and a £15 victim surcharge.
John Ellwood, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said: “An RSPCA inspector went to the property and saw a brick outbuilding, in which, a tri-coloured dog had been locked.
“The dog had nothing around its muzzle at this point. The outbuilding was filthy, had no ventilation and the dog had no access to water or a clean area to lay down.
“It was very warm, there were faeces on the floor and a strong smell of mould.
“The dog craved human company.
“Massey was asked about the allegation of taping the dog’s mouth up, which she stated she had not done as it would be cruel to do so.
“She said it had never had anything put round its mouth.”
He added: “Ten days later she was interviewed again and was shown the photograph of the dog with tape wrapped around its muzzle.
“She said the dog had been in the outbuilding for a couple of days and nights and when she went out shopping.
“She said the dog had a muzzle on that had been ripped, so she had put tape on the muzzle while she went shopping as a neighbour had complained about the dog barking.
“Massey said the longest it had been on was for just over an hour.”
Justices heard that a vet examined Trixie and concluded it had had tape “wrapped tightly around its nose and there was no evidence of a muzzle as straps would have been visible across the dogs face and behind the ears”.
The vet said the dog would have been distressed not being able to open its mouth to pant to regulate its body temperature, and it would not have been able to eat or drink.
Mitigating, John Relton urged justices not to give his client a lengthy animal ban as there was no evidence that the dog was thin or undernourished.