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St Bernard breeder admits neglect

Kennel owner will be sentenced in two weeks

A woman pleaded guilty last week to causing unnecessary suffering to 85 St Bernard dogs and failing to meet the welfare needs of another 14 St Bernards.

St BernardMary Ellen Collisy of the well known Wardana Kennels in Brigstock appeared at Corby Magistrates’ Court to answer charges relating to the 99 dogs in a case brought about by the RSPCA.

The Society had been alerted to the condition of the dogs by concerned members of the public and attended the kennels on Stanion Road - along with police and a veterinary surgeon - at the end of November 2008.

The St Bernards, which ranged in age from nine weeks to eight-years-old, were being kept in kennels which were covered in urine and faeces and there was no food or water available for the dogs. Their coats were filthy and matted with faeces. Nine puppies were kept in a separate pen outside with no food or water. There were heat lamps installed but they were not switched on. The vet recommended that they were brought inside for shelter. Thirteen of the dogs were found in the kitchen of the house connected with the kennels. They could reach water, but no food had been provided for them.

Eighty five of the St Bernards were reported to be suffering from medical problems such as abscesses, ulcerated skin and eye conditions and ear infections which had not been treated. Many were emaciated. Three of the puppies were very thin and their ribs were visible.

Heart attack

One dog was unable to stand and was suffering from dehydration. She had several open sores on her legs and feet caused by pressure and urine scalds. Another was in such a poor condition that the vet had to put the dog to sleep at the scene to prevent him from suffering further.
Another dog died overnight after suffering a heart attack at the veterinary surgery. He was thin, covered in faeces and was suffering from severe dehydration. Another dog had severely ulcerated eyes, which had not been treated and caused blindness.

Vets concluded that most of the dogs had suffered from neglect for several weeks or months.
In mitigation, the court heard that Collis’ actions were out of character and that she had been involved in dog breeding for about 30 years with no significant problems. She said that the recent problems were due to bankruptcy and her inability to cope financially rather than intentionally neglecting the dogs.

RSPCA inspector Clint Davies said: “To show such a disregard for the basic needs of so many animals is unacceptable.

“Whilst there was no deliberate cruelty here, these dogs had been left in such a poor state that others may have died had we not been alerted. Many were in pain and suffering just because they had not received veterinary treatment and food.

“Thanks to the hard work of vets, our inspectors, officers and animal centres, new homes have now been found for all of the dogs. This could not have been done without the support of the public across the country who have once again helped us to provide a lifeline for animals in desperate need.” All of the dogs have now been found good new homes.

Collis is due to be sentenced at 2.15pm on Friday 23 October .

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