Father and son given suspended prison sentences for starving dog

Two men have been given suspended prison sentences after allowing a bull terrier type dog to starve to death in a prosecution brought by the RSPCA.

Emaciated Cassie was found dead at the home of Raymond Warren and his son Reece Williamson in Walton, in July last year. A post-mortem report said the dog had most likely died of starvation.     

At a sentencing hearing at Liverpool Magistrates Court on Tuesday, 30 January, Williamson was handed a 23-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, after admitting to failing to provide Cassie with adequate nutrition. Warren, was given six-weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months, after pleading guilty to breaching a five-year disqualification order on keeping animals, imposed by the same court in November 2020.   

Both defendants were also banned from keeping animals for ten years.

Magistrates were told that RSPCA Inspector Lisa Lupson had been asked to collect Cassie’s body from a vet on 24 July last year after the dog had been taken there by police officers who’d found her deceased in the kitchen of the property the day before.

In written evidence to the court the inspector said, “I was shocked to see the condition of the dog inside the bag. Cassie was a brown-coloured, female, bull terrier type dog, she was in an emaciated condition with every bone visible through her fur.”

A post-mortem report carried out for the RSPCA as part of its investigation showed Cassie’s gastrointestinal tract was empty. It concluded that her poor body condition was most likely due to starvation through a lack of access to food, with no pathological cause of emaciation evident. 

The vet who provided written evidence in the case and gave Cassie a body score condition of only one out of nine, said, “I would expect a responsible owner to seek veterinary attention should their pet become underweight and to protect their animal from ingesting foreign material and seek veterinary advice if this had knowingly occurred.

“Cassie ingested non-food material which shows she still had an appetite, hunger and willingness to eat. This corroborates the postmortem report which concluded that lack of food was the likely cause of the emaciation and ultimate death.

“She will have felt weakness and debilitation having a severe lack of energy. This will have been uncomfortable and severely impacted her everyday life, ability to ambulate, to obtain food or water and play. The duration of these failings will be a minimum of several days but is more likely to be for a period of weeks looking at the evidence presented.”

In a police interview Williamson, who was also ordered to complete 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days, said Cassie didn’t eat properly and needed medication. He said he was too scared to take her to the vet and admitted he hadn’t done the right thing.

Warren, who was given 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days, told police that Cassie had only lived with them for a few months but he didn’t know where she had come from. He said he hadn’t seen the dog for one to two weeks and wasn’t aware of her poor condition. 

Both men were also ordered to pay a £154 victim surcharge.

Speaking after the case had concluded, Inspector Lupson said, “Cassie’s emaciated body was a sad and shocking sight. She had clearly been neglected for many weeks and veterinary assistance should clearly have been sought.

“Mr Warren also knew he was disqualified from keeping animals and there is a clear reason why breaches are imposed by the courts – they are there to protect animals from people who have been convicted under the Animal Welfare Act. We are grateful to the police for their assistance with this case, which was extremely upsetting for everyone involved.” 

Another dog at the property, which was not part of the RSPCA investigation, was taken into the care of the police.

Images: RSPCA

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