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Gospel Oak pet owner given curfew as punishment for dog’s ‘shocking’ suffering

Pic of Cleo, the pitbull terrier. Picture: Central News Pic of Cleo, the pitbull terrier. Picture: Central News

Thursday, August 7, 2014
4:46 PM

A dog owner has narrowly escaped jail after shocked RSPCA inspectors discovered the wretched state of one of his pets.

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Alexander McWilliams’s three-year-old pitbull terrier, Cleo, was bloated, emaciated and with grossly overgrown claws when she was rescued from his home by RSPCA officers in March.

The terrier had a serious heart condition which had gone untreated and, despite the intensive efforts of vets at an animal hospital, she had to be put down three days later to prevent further suffering.

McWilliams, of Lissenden Gardens, Gospel Oak, was handed an 18-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

He had been convicted of two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal after he failed to turn up to a court hearing in July.

Prosecutor Wendy Gutteridge, for the RSPCA, said: “RSPCA inspectors attended the defendant’s home which is a first-floor flat.

“Mr McWilliams was outside exercising two dogs on the grounds outside the block.

“He said he had further dogs inside – both were pitbulls, one dog the inspectors had no welfare concerns.

“The other is the subject of these proceedings, a three-year-old called Cleo.

“Mr McWilliams brought his dog Cleo to the door, both inspectors describe being shocked on seeing Cleo.”

McWilliams was also told to abide by a four-month curfew between 8pm and 7am as part of his punishment, and ordered to pay £250 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

“There is nothing to indicate the poor condition Cleo was in was anything other than the result of her untreated heart condition,” added Ms Gutteridge.

McWilliams last took Cleo to a vet three-and-a-half months before the inspectors found her.

But defence lawyer Margaret Anecha said he plans to appeal the court’s guilty verdict on the two charges.

“The dog was registered with a vet, and he made every effort to try to ensure the dog did receive treatment,” said Ms Anecha.

McWilliams was further disqualified from owning or keeping animals for three years, though restriction was suspended pending his appeal.

Two dogs are still in his care.

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