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RSPCA ‘disappointed’ at ban

The RSPCA expressed its disappointment this week after the owner of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier was handed a 10 year ban from keeping animals and a 21 day custodial sentence.

Robert Walker's dog, Tammy, was found with numerous injuries including 20 cigarette burns on her head and ears. It also emerged a court gave Tammy back to Walker, three months earlier.

The RSPCA's Jo Barr said: "While the ban and the prison sentence send out a very strong message that this behaviour will not be tolerated, it would have been nice to see a lifetime ban in this case. It was very disappointing when we had to give the dog back and while we may not have agreed with that decision, it was a decision for the court to make."

Walker told Plymouth magistrates he was not to blame for her injuries and said it was against his nature to hurt her.

Tammy was discovered after police were called to Walker's flat in March, cowering under a bed. The court heard the Staffordshire bull terrier was later examined by a vet who found she was "grossly underweight", had 20 cigarette burn scabs over her head and ears, and had seven broken ribs, one of which had perforated her lungs.

Ms Barr said the charity was now looking forward to the Animal Welfare Bill, the first overhaul of pet law in 94 years, becoming law. The Bill introduces a welfare offence for the first time and will give the RSPCA more power to intervene if their advice is ignored and they suspect a pet is being neglected.

Kevin Hopper, who is representing Walker, said his client believed the sentence was too harsh. Mr Hopper said: "I have had instructions to appeal against both the conviction and the sentence."