RSPCA: Pet ban for woman who left shar pei dog and cats 'to starve to death' in locked house
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Warning: This story contains graphic photos and content which may be distressing.
A Manchester woman has been handed a suspended prison sentence and disqualified from keeping animals after abandoning her pets without food or water for days, with two of them eventually dying.
Elisha Gordon, 39, of Wythenshaw, has been sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, which she will serve in the community, at Manchester Magistrates’ Court after she pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to her female shar pei dog - by failing to investigate and address her poor bodily condition and weight loss. The dog was so emaciated that she was found dead in a locked room when the RSPCA inspectors arrived.
She also pleaded guilty to failing to provide a suitable environment, adequate care and supervision, and failing to provide an appropriate diet and fresh drinking water for her four cats and one dog. One of the cats was also found dead, the charity said, but the other three were taken in by the shelter for rehabilitation, and later found loving homes.
Manchester RSPCA chief inspector Nina Small said they were alerted by a member of the public that there were abandoned pets inside the Stash Grove property in June. "We attended and became concerned when it became clear that no owner was returning to look after their pets," she said. "We posted food through the letterbox and contacted Greater Manchester Police for assistance, who gave us access to the property.”
"This was a horrible and distressing case which resulted in the death of two poor animals and could have so easily been avoided had the owner arranged for alternative care for them. This total disregard for their welfare meant that they would have suffered considerably whilst locked in that house on their own," Ms Small continued.
Inspector Jessica Araurjo, who investigated the property, said the house was dirty and rubbish-strewn. She found three cats on the hallway stairs. When she placed them in the cat carriers, she noted that she could feel their ribs and spine protruding outwards when she picked them up. Sadly, she then found a dead shar pei-type dog locked in a back room, and a dead black and white cat in an upstairs bedroom.
The court heard from vets that the animals had been left alone for at least five days. A postmortem on the female dog also confirmed that she was in an emaciated body condition, weighing just 9kg - when the average weight for a female shar pei dog was around 18 to 25kg. There was no dog food found in her stomach but there were pieces of plastic detected. The vet report said it was unknown whether she ate this due to her starvation, or whether this caused a blockage and resulted in starvation.
"Irrespective of the cause of emaciation, it would have been obvious to an observer that this dog was significantly underweight," they added. "This should have been recognised by the person responsible for her welfare and veterinary advice sought. Failure to do so resulted in her suffering.”
The magistrates in the case all agreed that this was a case of “frightening and horrendous” suffering and reached the threshold for custody. Gordon was therefore sentenced to two 16-week suspended sentences for 24 months, to run concurrently. She was also sentenced to 20 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days and was banned from keeping all animals for five years - and was ordered to pay costs of £154 from her benefits.
The case comes as new statistics from the RSPCA confirmed incidents of animal abandonment were at a three-year high - with the charity expected to receive more than 21,400 reports about abandoned animals this year.