A Bridgend woman has been handed a 16-week suspended prison sentence after two dogs – she was pet-sitting – were found dead in a car on a hot day.
Janine Maloney (d.o.b 27/05/1974) of Maesteg Road, Tondu, Bridgend, appeared at Cardiff Magistrates Court on Monday 6 February for sentencing after previously pleading guilty on the day of the trial to two offences under the Animal Welfare Act.
They were that on 5 September 2021 at Maesteg Road, Tondu, Bridgend, she caused unnecessary suffering to two female French bulldogs – Lila and Phab – by failing to adequately ensure that they were provided with reasonable care and supervision once enclosed in a vehicle in circumstances adverse to their health and well-being and secondly – that she failed to meet the needs of the two dogs.
At sentencing she was handed a 16-week prison sentence which was suspended for two years, a 15 day Rehabilitation Activity requirement and a six month alcohol programme. She was also ordered to pay £500 costs, £500 compensation and was disqualified from keeping dogs for five years. This order has been suspended for three months to allow her to rehome her own dogs.
The court heard that the dogs were found dead in an unattended vehicle that had been in the care of Maloney – who ran a commercial dog walking and pet sitting business named Pet Patrol Club.
The RSPCA were called to investigate and a specialist post mortem examination was carried out on the bodies.
In a written statement from RSPCA deputy chief inspector (DCI) Gemma Black, said she met with the owner of the two dogs who was “very emotional about what had happened.”
DCI Black said: “She told me she had paid a lady known to her as Janine Malone of a company called Pet Patrol to look after her dogs for her from September 3rd until the 5th.
“She told me that Ms Malone had returned to her address on Sunday the 5th of September 2021 with the dogs dead. She told me that Ms Malone claimed to have left them in the car during the Sunday, during hot weather and she believed this was how they died.”
In written evidence from a vet, they believed that Lila and Phab “have been caused to suffer” and their needs “have not been met to the extent required by good practice”.
In the veterinary interpretation of the facts it was said that the two dogs died sometime between 10am and 5pm while Maloney was absent from her home address with temperatures external to the car locally recorded from 16*C at 10am hours to 22*C at 5pm hours.
The statement went on to say: “The evidence indicates that the two dogs had been left in the car without any access to water, with none of the car windows open and no air conditioning active.
“The post mortem evidence showed that both dogs were found to have pathology changes consistent with having died via a mechanism of heat stroke/stress, having a number of haemorrhagic areas in the body.
“Both dogs were French Bulldogs having a shortened nose anatomy (brachycephalic) that had also been affected by Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). They were also both overweight which likely contributed to their susceptibility to heat stress.
“Undoubtedly the two dogs would have suffered as a consequence of excessive heat in the car under the circumstances of an external environmental temperature above 20*C, poor ventilation and no access to water. Suffering will have been experienced by these two dogs via a mechanism of escalating respiratory distress and an inability to effectively dissipate body heat.”
In mitigation the court heard that she had closed down the business, is a carer for an elderly relative and said it was a tragic mistake. The District Judge however said there was a “blatant lack of care” and on the day she did nothing and didn’t check on the dogs.
Speaking after sentencing DCI Black, said: “I would like to thank my colleagues inspector Julie Fadden and deputy chief inspector Gemma Cooper for their work on this heartbreaking case – and all of our thoughts go out to the owner of Lila and Phab.
“We hope this tragic case reminds people that the risk to the lives of animals is so high. Our message is simple: never leave a dog in a hot car – ‘not long’ is too long, and if you see a dog in a hot car, call 999 immediately.”
The owner of the two dogs – who had cared for them since they were eight-weeks-old – said: “It has been horrendous. I have nightmares about what they would have gone through. I trusted this person.
“I just don’t want other people and animals to go through this. I would like to thank the RSPCA for all their support and I would also like to thank the community for their support as well.”
She added that Lila and Phab – who were four-years-old – were her “soul companions”. It had been the first time she had left them with anyone.