A woman from Carmarthenshire has been given an eight week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, after her dog’s coat had become so severely matted it had cut off the blood supply to the animal’s lower leg and caused skin on the foot to turn black and necrotic.
Linda Jones of Gwelfor, Llanelli, pleaded guilty to one animal welfare offence when she appeared before Llanelli magistrates last Friday (22 April) following a prosecution by the RSPCA.
The court was told that about 90 percent of terrier Trixie’s coat was so thickly matted she had been left unable to see properly and as a result had been suffering unnecessarily for at least three months.
The skin on her left carpus had been ‘cheese wired’ by the bands of hair and matting which had cut into the flesh and caused irreparable damage to her foot, leaving the vet who examined her with no other option but to put her to sleep to prevent further suffering.
Magistrates heard how RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben was contacted after Jones had taken Trixie to the PDSA in Swansea on 5 January this year.
The officer was told that the dog had been euthanised on welfare grounds by the PDSA and Jones had taken her body away, but that photos and medical notes were available.
On 11 January inspector Hogben visited Jones at her house to ask her about Trixie. “I introduced myself and said I was there as we had received an allegation of neglect about a dog named Trixie,” he said. “Linda Jones informed me that Trixie had not been neglected and there was nothing wrong with her. I explained that a vet had said she had been euthanasied due to her severely matted coat and an infected injury to her foot.”
In a telephone call with inspector Hogben two days later, Jones reiterated that she had “certainly not” neglected her dog. She said Trixie’s paw had only been bad for two weeks and that she was going to get her coat dealt with after the dog’s foot had been treated and healed.
In evidence to the court, the vet who examined Trixie for the PDSA said she was found to be non-weight bearing on her left front leg, which was foul smelling. The dog was anxious and in visible pain and needed to be sedated so she could be examined further and clipped.
The vet said: “I was able to see the skin had been ‘cheese wired’ by the bands of hair and matting and had cut into the flesh revealing her flexor tendons and underlying fascia, it was also possible to see bone when the limb was flexed.
“The hair I was able to remove around her pads and toes revealed black, cold skin that was becoming necrotic. I believe this is what was causing the smell. It looked like the limb had been tourniqueted in two places from the tight bands of matted fur. Unfortunately this had cut off the vasculature to the distal limb which had died off.
“Mrs Jones advised that the duration of lameness was about a week, suggesting Trixie had been painful enough to not use the limb for that time as a minimum. In my opinion the changes to the limb had likely happened over a longer period of probably at least three weeks.
“This is not taking into account the discomfort Trixie would have been in with a heavily matted coat, which was likely of at least three months duration.”
Jones was told by the vet that the condition of Trixie’s coat was unacceptable and had caused irreparable damage to her foot, which if left untreated, would likely lead to septicemia and death.
In addition to the suspended prison sentence, Jones was also banned from keeping all animals for ten years, ordered to carry out ten days rehabilitation and told to pay £428 in costs and a surcharge.
Inspector Hogben said: “Sadly the basic needs of this little dog had not been met. She hadn’t been groomed regularly which resulted in a severely matted coat and a leg injury that couldn’t be treated in time to save Trixie’s life.”