Doncaster woman handed five year pet ban after 'barely alive' dog found locked in filthy house

A Doncaster woman has been handed a five-year ban on keeping animals after her elderly pet dog was found ‘barely alive’ locked in a filthy house with no food.

By Darren Burke
Friday, 9th July 2021, 9:30 am

Alison Middlebrook, 39, pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering after a court heard how she left her elderly dog called Jake locked in a dirty house along with a pet cat called Ginge.

Doncaster Magistrates’ Court heard how the RSPCA were called to reports that some cats had been abandoned in a house in Marton Road, Toll Bar.

Inspector Vanessa Reid was sent to the scene on March 8 as a report suggested it was empty and insecure.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Jake and Ginge were found locked in a filthy house by RSPCA inspectors.

Through the window she could see the house was dirty with faeces on the kitchen floor and dead flies on a windowsill. A bowl was visible in the kitchen but there was no food in it.

When she went into the rear yard she could see the back door moving and an extremely underweight dog began to head towards her.

Vanessa said: “All his ribs, spine and hips were visible, and he was very wobbly on his back end, falling to one side regularly as he walked.

“There were multiple neighbours outside, one of whom advised they believed the dog to be ‘Jake’, an elderly pet they believed the owners to have rehomed years ago.”

Vanessa took 16-year-old Jake for emergency veterinary care and alerted South Yorkshire Police as she wanted them to assist in searching the house for any other pets and also to trace the owners of Jake and Ginge.

As she waited in her van Middlebrook turned up at the house and Vanessa approached her and was given access to the property to search it for other pets.

The defendant told Vanessa that she was not living at the house but came back to feed the animals.

She stated she had recently rehomed two cats but claimed no-one would take Jake and Ginge, although she confirmed she had not contacted the RSPCA. She immediately signed over both pets into RSPCA care and Vanessa was able to take Ginge for a veterinary examination.

A vet found Jake, a crossbreed elderly dog, was emaciated with a body score of 1/9 (with one being the lowest) and at 14.6 kg was about a quarter of his expected body weight.

He also had hair loss, scabs on his body and had untreated fleas on his skin.

Ginge, aged 2, was found to be in better bodily condition but had live fleas on her coat.

The vet concluded: “Keepers of dogs and cats have a responsibility to provide for their animal's basic needs providing a suitable environment for the animal to live in and a suitable diet. This has clearly not been met by the owner given the poor conditions the animals were kept in.

“If an adequate appropriate diet had been provided then Jake would have been of a better body weight and not severely malnourished.”

The court was told that in RSPCA care Jake went on to put on 4 kgs in weight in 18 days and has since gone on to be rehomed.

Vanessa added: “Jake did so well in RSPCA care and I am pleased he has now found a lovely home to spend the rest of his days. For an older dog he is lively and jumps around.

“Ginge was also rehomed and is also doing well.”

As well as a ban on keeping animals for five years, magistrates at the hearing, on June 23, also handed Middlebrook of Highfields Crescent, Mexborough a 10-week suspended prison sentence for 12 months, and a 12-week curfew between the hours of 8pm and 6am every day for 10 weeks.

She was also ordered to pay £150 costs and a £128 victim surcharge.

In mitigation the court heard the defendant had a difficult upbringing and she had previously had a drug addiction.