A woman who left her pet dog locked in a house for weeks to starve to a third of her normal body weight and appeared like a ‘walking skeleton’ has been banned from keeping animals indefinitely.
The Husky-type cross dog called Yogi was so emaciated that the RSPCA inspector who rescued her said she was the thinnest dog she had seen alive.
Yogi weighed just 8.75kg when rescued, but a dog of that breed would typically weigh around 30kg.
The court heard how an inspection of the rubbish-strewn property indicated she had been drinking water from the toilet bowl – which was left dry – and had eaten tubes of toothpaste to help stay alive.
Ayla Gilchrist (date of birth 18/10/1997), pleaded guilty to three animal welfare offences after she admitted leaving Yogi alone in a house in Egreaves Avenue, Loscoe, Heanor, with no food.
Derby Magistrates’ Court heard how the RSPCA were alerted after a housing officer attending the address reported seeing a very underweight dog in the house.
Animal rescuer inspector Rachel Leafe attended the property on January 6 last year and could see through the window the weak dog in the rubbish-strewn house, which had dirty nappies, litter and dog faeces covering the floors.
In a statement, she said: “She was walking but looked very weak and unsteady on her legs. I could visibly see, despite the thick fur, that the dog was grossly underweight. The outline of every rib could be seen through the fur, as could the spine and hip bones. The dog’s face was sunken in.
“Her stomach was so sucked in that it looked like somebody could easily wrap their hands around her waist. I could not see any food or water. I was very concerned that if the dog was to be left any longer she may not survive.”
Rachel immediately called Derbyshire police and with their help was able to gain access to the property.
By climbing onto a ledge through an open window, she safely lifted the dog free – as she was too weak to jump on the windowsill.
Rachel said: “I was so shocked at how light the dog was to pick up. It just felt like picking up an empty rucksack. I could feel her breast bone which was very sharp and prominent and no fat or muscle was surrounding her body at all.
“She looked like a walking skeleton and I had never felt a dog this thin that was still alive in all my life and career as an RSPCA Inspector.”
Rachel rushed the dog for emergency veterinary treatment as she was underweight, dehydrated and appeared confused and weak.
The vets also found a microchip which revealed the dog’s name was Yogi, she was aged 5, and she belonged to Ayla Gilchrist and was registered at the address where she was found.
Rachel was able to trace Gilchrist who allowed her access to the property where Yogi was found so she could make further investigations.
During her search she found no available food and water for the pet but came across empty dog food tins wrappers and a tube of toothpaste which had been ripped apart and chewed.
A vet who examined Yogi said: “The only reason she perhaps stayed alive as long as she did was because she was able to access the water in a downstairs toilet. The dog was caused an unimaginable degree of suffering for a period of at least two months.”
After emergency treatment Yogi, who by this stage Rachel was calling Honey because of her sweet nature and fur colouring, was taken to the RSPCA Chesterfield and North Derbyshire where she was rehabilitated and has been transformed into a healthy and loving dog.
She is with new owners Linda Merrill (57) and husband John (58) at their home in Staveley and they have kept her name as Honey.
Linda said Honey now enjoys getting plenty of love and attention who adores people – especially their grandchild Amelia.
She said: “We have always had rescue dogs and I was on the look-out for one as we had lost our previous dog a year before. I saw her on the RSPCA branch website and fell for her then.
“When I told my husband he said we should go and see her and when we did we felt she was so lovely that we adopted her exactly a year ago this week.
“She loves plenty of fuss and attention and she is so spoiled. She even has her own sette where she looks out of the window and likes to watch the neighbours and they also like to see Honey.
“I am so glad the RSPCA were able to rescue and rehabilitate her and she is such a lovely girl – they did a great job.”
As well as a ban on keeping animals Gilchrist was given an 8 week sentence suspended for 12 months for each offence, she was also ordered to pay £200 costs and a victim surcharge of £128. In mitigation the court hearing, on March 8, was told she had left the property and was worried about returning.
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