December 12 2013 Latest news:
BY MATT BUNN
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
A WOMAN from the town whose dog was found starving to death in its own excrement is today starting a 12-week jail term.
Millie Whitham, of Defoe Road in Ipswich, pleaded guilty to three charges of animal cruelty last month in a case one RSPCA inspector described as one of the worst he had ever seen.
The 47-year-old appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court yesterday for sentencing about a month after her son, Cy Whitham, was jailed for 18 weeks for the same offence.
The case related to a three-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier called KD, now named Lottie, which was discovered at the Whithams’ former home in Donegal Road, Ipswich.
She was found after a pest control worker visited the property on September 26 because of a flea infestation.
When an upstairs door was opened the bull terrier ran out and down the stairs. It was reported there was a strong smell of urine and dog waste.
KD was malnourished, dehydrated, starving and crawling with fleas, the court heard.
Prosecutor Hugh Rowland said: “There was clear evidence that the owner failed to supply the dog with adequate care.”
The bodies of two other decomposed dogs were also discovered in a shed at the property. However, their cause of death could not be determined and no charges were pursued in relation to those animals.
As well as the 12-week jail term, Whitham has also been disqualified from owning animals for 15 years and she can only apply to have that lifted in 10 years.
Sentencing Whitham, Joan Overett, chairman of the bench, said: “You knew the dogs were there and you must have known the suffering caused.”
RSPCA inspector Jason Finch, who visited the house, added: “This sends out a very strong message that this kind of action just isn’t acceptable.
“Everybody’s situation changes, that’s part and parcel of life, but if that does happen, there is help out there – there is always somewhere for these animals to go.”
Animal rights group, Essex Animal Defenders, were also at court today to protest for longer custodial sentences for people convicted of animal abuse.
Marcia Hagon, a member of the group, said: “I am very happy that she has got a custodial sentence because nothing else would have been satisfactory.
“But generally we think the custodial sentences the law allows are not sufficient in this country and we would like to see them getting longer.”
Fellow protestor, Jane Callow, added: “I think that 12 weeks is quite disgusting.
“She knew what she was doing the animals have seriously suffered, two of them dead and one of them was nearly dead.”
The bull terrier was taken to the RSPCA’s Martlesham Animal Centre where she has regained weight and staff are currently working with her.
■ Are dog abuse laws tough enough? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or alternatively, you can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org