image-1-beforeA couple who caused unnecessary suffering to their dog have been sentenced at Croydon Magistrates’ Court.

Steven Laws and Elaine Churcher, both aged 33, kept Ruby, a 2-3 year-old Dogue de Bordeaux, which had just reached physical maturity, at the house they shared in Waltham Road, Carshalton.

But they failed to feed and exercise Ruby. The dog was kept mostly within the confines of their accommodation.

Concerns around the welfare of the dog came to police attention when Churcher came into reception at Sutton Police Station to report an unrelated matter. Enquiries led officers to seize the dog, which was found to be underweight. Ruby was taken to a vets for treatment immediately.

The investigation was led by Safer Neighbourhoods PC Kellie Heath and assisted by Jan Eachus, a retired RSPCA Chief Inspector, who now works as a Met Police Canine Welfare Officer.

At Croydon Magistrates’ Court on Friday, 4 November, Laws and Churcher both pleaded guilty to two charges.

The first charge was causing unnecessary suffering to an animal by failing to adequately feed the animal, which caused the animal to suffer unnecessarily. The second charge concerned failing to allow the dog to ‘exhibit normal behaviour patterns by lack of sufficient exercise’. The offences, which are contained in the Animal Welfare Act 2006, were said to have taken place between Sunday, 3 April and Sunday, 29 May 2016.

Laws (Dob: 23.11.82) was fined £800, ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid community work and disqualified from keeping any animal indefinitely. In addition, he was ordered to pay £85 prosecution costs and £85 compensation. Laws’ disqualification order was also made in respect of ‘all animals’ including owning them, keeping them, participating in keeping them and from being party to an arrangement under which he can control or influence the way in which they are kept for a period of life.

Churcher (Dob: 20.04.83) was fined £200, ordered to carry out community service for one year and disqualified for keeping an animal for 12 months. She was ordered to pay £85 prosecution costs and £85 compensation.

PC Kellie Heath said the dog, which had put on a significant amount of weight, remained in police care with a view to it being rehomed.

PC Heath Keogh, who is Sutton’s animal welfare officer, said dog owners have a legal duty to properly care for their animal and police will prosecute irresponsible dog owners on welfare matters as well as tackle dog owners over incidents arising from nuisance dogs.

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