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Life bans for couple’s cruelty to St. Bernard

A couple from Greater Manchester were banned for life from keeping any animals after they admitted causing unnecessary suffering to their St Bernard dog.

Neika, a five-year-old dog, had severe hair loss, ringworm, lice infestation, open sores and scabs, eye problems and an ear infection, Wigan Magistrates’ Court heard. Neika was also approximately 20kgs underweight for a dog of his breed and size. A local authority dog warden, who was concerned about the condition of a St Bernard that had been reported as a stray, had contacted RSPCA inspector Cathy Hyde in May this year.

The inspector went to the house of Hazel and Stanley Raymond in Newlands Road, Leigh, the couple who made the report to the dog warden service. They claimed to have found Neika in a park. Inspector Hyde was immediately suspicious, because the Raymonds owned two other St Bernard dogs.

An appeal was issued in local newspapers to track down the owners of Neika – and the RSPCA received a number of calls naming the Raymonds as the dog’s owner.

Inspector Hyde carried out a lengthy investigation to prove Neika belonged to the couple. When confronted with her evidence, they eventually admitted he was theirs. The court was told that the couple had not taken Neika to a vet for treatment to his multiple problems because they feared they would not be able to afford the veterinary bill.

Stanley Raymond, 55, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to Neika. He was sentenced to a 180-hour community punishment order and was ordered to pay £500 costs.

Hazel Raymond, 45, was unable to attend court due to illness and a solicitor entered a guilty plea on her behalf. She was fined £750 and ordered to pay costs of £500.

Both defendants were banned for life from keeping any animals. The court also imposed a ‘No Appeal’ ruling to the sentence.

After the hearing, inspector Hyde said: "There is no excuse for cruelty to animals. The severity of this offence has been recognised by the magistrates in imposing a lifetime ban on keeping animals."

The couple’s three other dogs – two of them St Bernards – have been confiscated and will be found new homes.

Neika has been rehomed to his breeder John Hibbert, who paid for the surgery to Neika’s face to hide scars caused by the many open sores and cysts from which he had suffered.

With a proper diet and care, Neika has soon regained a large part of his body weight and is, according to Mr Hibbert, a far happier dog.

"The Raymonds begged me for a dog and said they wanted to show him," said Mr Hibbert, who exhibits under the prefix Burlodge, from his home in Endon, Staffordshire.

"I trusted they would look after him but it beggars belief what they did to him, he was in a terrible state.

"He is just a big loveable dog, he craves affection and we will give him plenty to make up all that time when he missed out."

Neika was bred out of Fancy Free Girl of Burlodge and Ch Timeside Mr Slobba Dobba, who won Best of Breed at Crufts over several years.

Mr Hibbert’s wife Anthea added: "I have nothing but praise for Inspector Cathy Hyde who worked so hard to bring this case to court, and was happy for Neika to be rehomed back to us.

"I’d also like to say special thanks to Eileen Wardle of the St Bernard rescue Association who liaised with the RSPCA and managed to trace Neika back to us via Mr Slobba Dobba’s breeder”.