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Dog was ‘skinny to the point of starvation’, court told

A dog at the centre of an alleged animal cruelty case was covered in old scars and “skinny to the point of starvation” when examined by a vet, a court heard yesterday.

Dr Gaelle Roth, giving evidence for the prosecution at the Magistrates’ Court trial of Kurt Dowling, said nine-year-old pit bull Venom was brought into Ettrick Animal Hospital on December 8, 2010, with a severe wound on the left side of its face.

Reading from a report she wrote on February 4, 2011, Dr Roth said: “According to the person bringing in Venom, he was not well.

“He may have been attacked by another dog, causing an ear infection. On physical examination, I found the dog to be bright and alert.”

Her report said Venom had “multiple old scars” around the head and both front legs, as well as the infected swelling on its face, caused by a puncture wound on the left ear, which was oozing discharge.

The dog needed antibiotics, pain relief and treatment for deworming, added Dr Roth. She said: “I told the person who brought Venom in that a follow-up appointment was required. A follow-up appointment was never made.”

Dr Roth said she gave the dog a score of one out of five for its body condition. “One out of five is the worst it can be. It basically means the dog was very skinny, to the point of starvation”.

The vet said she discussed treatment options with the person who brought in the dog, including euthanasia.

Mr Dowling, 30, of Farm Lane, Warwick, denies a charge of permitting unnecessary suffering, pain and injury to be caused to a dog.

His lawyer Eugene Johnston, cross-examining Dr Roth, pointed out that Venom was not put down and asked: “Is that because Mr Dowling chose a different course?”

Dr Roth replied: “Yes.” She said the defendant chose to follow her instructions on how to try to help the dog get better.

The court heard earlier from government animal wardens Herb Marshall and Beaman Smith, also giving evidence for the prosecution.

Mr Marshall told how he visited Venom on May 18, 2010, at a property on Cedar Lane in Warwick after a complaint from the SPCA that the animal had no food or water.

He said the dog did have water and he left a notice asking the owner to call. Mr Marshall said Kurt Dowling got in touch and advised that he had given Venom away to Keijon Steede.

“He was not happy about getting the complaint and said he was going to take back care of the dog.”

The assistant warden said he went back to visit the animal on December 7, 2010.

“The dog had a swelling on the left side of its face and appeared to be thin,” Mr Marshall added. “Again, a notice was left.”

He said SPCA welfare officer Debbie Masters called again about Venom on January 21, 2011 and he again visited the Cedar Lane property, noting that the swelling had disappeared but the dog was thinner.

It was seized and taken to Ettrick for examination, then to the government kennels.

Mr Smith described how the dog was lethargic on December 7, 2010, and he left a sticker asking the owner to call. The warden said Mr Dowling got in touch and said he would take Venom to the vet.

Mr Smith said that when he visited the dog on January 21, 2011, the swelling had gone from its head, it was thinner but “a lot more bouncier and happier”.

Ettrick owner and vet Andrew Madeiros was the final prosecution witness. He told how Venom was presented at the animal hospital by the SPCA on January 21, 2011.

He said the dog was severely malnourished and four pounds lighter than on its previous visit. Venom weighed 41lbs when a healthy weight would have been 55lbs, he said.

Dr Madeiros said Venom’s weight on January 31, 2011 was 42.6lbs and by March 21 he weighed 52.3lbs.

Cross-examined by Mr Johnston, he agreed that if a dog responded to a course of medication with vomiting or diarrhoea or lost its appetite, it could lose weight as a result.

The prosecution rested its case yesterday and the trial continues next week.

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Published February 08, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated February 08, 2012 at 8:53 am)

Dog was ‘skinny to the point of starvation’, court told

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