South Warwickshire woman given suspended prison sentence for leaving her dog to starve to death in an empty house

She was also banned from keeping animals for life *Warning: this article includes an image which may cause distress*

A South Warwickshire woman has been given a suspended prison sentence and banned from keeping animals for life after she admitted to leaving her dog to starve to death in an empty house.

Christine Mary Wilkinson, 23, of Caudlewell Drive Shipston-upon-Stour, was sentenced when she appeared before magistrates in Coventry last Wednesday (May 19) after an offence of causing unnecessary suffering to a bulldog named Minnie was proved in her absence at a previous hearing.

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Minnie was discovered by a housing association officer who had accessed Wilkinson’s former address in Marigold Road, Stratford, in May 2019.

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They found the white and tan dog’s decomposing body and contacted the RSPCA.

During the court hearing RSPCA Inspector Thea Kerrison, who was on duty in Warwickshire when she received a call from the animal welfare charity’s call handlers about Minnie, described the moment she arrived at the address.

She said: “I was shown towards a closed door by the housing officer, who informed me that this was the room in which Minnie was found.

“I opened the door into a small kitchen area which was approximately two metres by three meters of floor space. On opening the door I was hit by an even stronger smell of decay and I had to place my hand over my mouth and nose. I had difficulty opening the door due to the dog bed, blankets and faeces behind and underneath the door.

The decomposing body of Minnie the bulldog was found by a housing officer at the former Stratford address of Christine Mary Wilkinson, now of Caudlewell Drive, Shipston-upon-Stour.

“Minnie was curled up in a plastic dog bed on top of a blanket. I could see that she was extremely thin as I could see its ribs and hip bones prominently. She looked like she had died, curled up in the sleeping position.”

As well as the lifetime disqualification order on all animals, which can not be appealed for ten years, magistrates handed Wilkinson a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

She was also ordered to do 20 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (RAR) days and was told to pay £150 in costs and a £128 victim surcharge.

Inspector Kerrison added: “Minnie was severely neglected prior to her death. The veterinary reports after her post mortem concluded that her poor body condition score would have taken place over a period of weeks. The conditions she was found in with large amounts of faeces in her environment is further evidence of this.

“There were two levels of suffering identified by vets - the physical suffering of starvation and dehydration, and the mental suffering of anxiety and stress, not knowing if anyone was coming for her or when she would be fed.

“Minnie was dependent on her owner and she broke that trust by leaving her to suffer. Wilkinson could have asked for help or handed Minnie over to an animal charity to be rehomed but instead decided to simply abandon her to die after a period of prolonged suffering.”