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Dog owner jailed for ‘horrific cruelty’ to dogs

A DOG owner allowed his two pets to suffer in pain for two weeks without seeking veterinary treatment in what a judge has described as a ‘horrific’ case of animal cruelty.

Kevin Matthews, 43, was sentenced to 12-weeks imprisonment last week for failing to get treatment for his two Staffordshire Bull Terriers who had been left with horrendous facial injuries following a fight.

The dogs, named Deaf and Max, were left with infected muscle tissue hanging from their jaws after a fight at their owner's home on Paradise Place, Norwich.

RSPCA inspectors were made aware of the dog’s injuries and seized them in August last year.
Matthews appeared at Norwich Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and failing to provide appropriate veterinary treatment for severe facial injuries.

In a move which has been praised by animal welfare officers, District Judge Philip Browning, who described the injuries as ‘horrifying’, jailed Matthews for 12 weeks.

Photographs of the dogs’ injuries where so shocking Judge Browning gasped in disbelief as they were handed to him. A veterinary surgeon described one of the dogs, four-year-old Deaf, as having one of the worst cases of infection he had ever seen.

Upon sentencing Judge Browning said: ‘The circumstances in which the dogs got these injuries are dubious, but the injuries were horrifying and it was obvious they needed treatment and were causing the dogs suffering.’

The court heard how on August 20 last year, the local dog warden visited Matthews home address while Matthews was out following complaints of noise from the dogs.

The warden found Max, who is black, and Deaf, who is white, with muscle tissue hanging from their jaws, injuries which had become severely infected.

Deaf's temperature was 40 degrees, and Max's was 39.6 degrees. The normal average temperature for a healthy dog is 38 degrees. The dogs were taken straight to a local vet.
Jonathon Eaels, prosecuting, said: ‘The vet said the wounds inflicted on Max, who had multiple wounds to the left side of his face, were affecting the dog extensively and the severity of the infection in the wounds indicated they had been left for at least two weeks, and the dog had been made to suffer unnecessarily.

‘In describing Deaf, he said it was one of the worst cases of infection because of lack of veterinary provision he had ever seen.’

Matthews, who also owned two cats at the time, had owned four-year-old Deaf since he was a puppy. He decided in August to buy another terrier Max, whose age was not known, but the two had not taken to each other and fought on several occasions.

Alison McManus, defending, said when the dogs had fought on previous occasions Matthews claimed the wounds had always healed by themselves. She said Matthews had done all he could to keep the dogs separate including keeping them in different rooms.

But on the occasion in question the dogs had got free and managed to get involved in a fight. She said Matthews had tried to break up the dogs by throwing water over them but to no avail.
She said: ‘Deaf was a very good companion to Mr Matthews as he had owned him since he was a puppy and Mr Matthews is extremely distressed at the pain he has caused to both dogs. He understands now that not taking them to the vets was a huge mistake, but he honestly thought the wounds would heal by themselves. As a majority of the wounds were inside the mouth he did not realise the extent of the injuries.’

Matthews was also disqualified from keeping dogs for 10 years, although the order can be overturned within five years.

Both dogs and Matthews' cats have been signed over to the RSPCA to be rehomed.

Katie Wright, the RSPCA inspector who dealt with case, said afterwards: ‘I am glad the hard work of the RSPCA and dog wardens has been realised. I hope this sends out a message to other people whose dogs are injured that they must seek veterinary treatment straight away.’

Dog warden Moira Ross-Dempster, who found the dogs, said: ‘People need to know they cannot get away with this and that when we find dogs in this condition we will be informing the RSPCA and taking the matter further.’