A couple have been banned from keeping animals for ten years after a number of beatings led to their young dog suffering from broken ribs and a punctured lung – just weeks after she had suffered two suspected head traumas.
The crossbreed Mastiff-type puppy called Maya was taken to a nearby vet following an incident at the home she shared with her then-owners Craig Shingler and Esha Proudlove, of Shakespeare Road, Neston, Cheshire, on November 13, 2020.
The couple said the injuries were caused to 15-week-old Maya when she tried to free herself from a crate at the property.
The following day the RSPCA were called to investigate following an anonymous call from a member of the public who was concerned the Maya was being beaten.
Inspector Anthony Joynes was sent to investigate and soon discovered that just a few weeks earlier, on October 17, Maya had been taken to a vet with a severe head trauma which Proudlove claimed had occurred when Maya had fallen off the settee after being nudged by her other dog Milo.
The following day, on October 18, she was also presented at the vets again after it was claimed she had a seizure and she was sore around the neck.
After consulting with a veterinary surgeon Anthony was told that in his expert opinion both dogs were at serious risk of harm and should be removed.
The veterinary expert suspected Maya had been kicked with force and the head trauma may have been caused by strangulation.
On Sunday, November 15 Anthony attended at the property along with members of Cheshire police to remove the dogs and place them in RSPCA care
While inside he also questioned the couple about the injuries to Maya and while Proudlove suggested a family member had squeezed Maya causing the rib fractures, the pair claimed the head injury was caused by a fall from a low sofa after she was nudged by Milo.
Anthony told the court, “Shingler accounted for the head injury Maya sustained on October 16, saying that the puppy had fallen off the sofa onto the floor.
“He advised that both him and Proudlove had witnessed the incident and that Maya had been on the sofa with second dog Milo and that Maya had fallen off the edge of the sofa.
“I was shown exactly where this had occurred with Shingler pointing out the exact spot. This was not the arm of the sofa or the back of the sofa but the seating area of a low lying sofa. (See photograph below) Proudlove confirmed this account to be true.
“I noted that Esha had two toes on her foot strapped together and enquired about how that had happened. She stated that she had ‘tripped up’ over.”
A concerned neighbour spoke to Anthony when he was at the premises and said he was convinced the pair were beating the dogs. He said they were often shouting at each other and heard the dogs yelp and said he was happy to provide a statement.
He said he was aware the couple had a young Staffordshire Bull Terrier-type but had not seen him taken outside and said that the dog was toileting in the flat as the smell from the property of faeces and urine was “overwhelming” with many residents had reported the matter to the local council.
He also heard noises coming from the flat and had challenged the couple as he feared for the safety of the pet but Proudlove said he yelped when she put his harness on.
Then on October 15 he was aware the couple had also taken on another puppy and two days later he heard another loud bang come from the flat.
At their trial, Proudlove pleaded guilty to three animal welfare offences and Shingler pleaded guilty to two when they appeared before Wirral Magistrates’ Court.
Proudlove admitted she was behind the abuse and Shingler admitted he was present when the incidents happened but did nothing to prevent them.
The court was told that the couple’s explanation of what happened to Maya changed on a number of occasions and none were consistent with the severity of her injuries.
An independent veterinary expert said, “It would be totally inconsistent that a puppy of Maya’s size would sustain a significant head injury if she fell off the sofa. It would be highly unlikely that firstly she would land on her head and secondly if she did there would not be sufficient force to cause the clinical signs that resulted.
“Furthermore the following morning Maya was noted to have bleeding into her sclera on one of her eyes which would be associated with a very high force blow to the head or a direct blow to that eye. The alternative mechanism is strangulation which would also be consistent with the clinical findings of neck pain when seen by the vets.
“What is clear is that the account given as to how the accident occurred is utterly inconsistent with a scleral bleed. Of even more concern is that this worsens and then is noted in the other eye and it would be my expert opinion that this would reflect a second incident of injury subsequent to the first presentation.”
At their sentencing hearing on Thursday (Aug 29) Proudlove was handed a 12-week prison sentence suspended for one year, was ordered to complete 20 hours Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and was handed an eight-week curfew from 7pm to 7am. She was also ordered to pay £250 costs and a £128 victim surcharge.
Shingler was handed a 10-week prison sentence suspended for one year. He must also complete 10 hours Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and 150 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay costs and a victim surcharge of the same amount.
Both Mayo and Milo were rehabilitated by staff at the Southport and Ormskirk district branch of the RSPCA and have both been rehomed.
Maya has now been renamed Roo and is enjoying life with a new family. She has recently enjoyed holidaying in Scotland.
Anthony said, “I am in touch with her new owners who were initially fostering her but they fell in love so adopted her.
“She looks fantastic and is now at her normal body weight. Her coat looks immaculate and from the photographs, I have seen she is clearly loving life. I am so pleased for her as she is such a lovely dog and it is always great to see a happy ending.”