Starved dog ‘could be lifted up with two fingers’

The owner was cleared of causing her pet undue suffering at Livingston Sheriff Court.

The owner was cleared of causing her pet undue suffering at Livingston Sheriff Court.

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A dog was so emaciated that an animal welfare officer was able to pick it up with one hand between pinched fingers, a court was told yesterday.

The one-year-old female St Bernard, called Luna, died in the arms of her owner, Kayleigh McAllister, in August 2013, Livingston Sheriff Court heard.

Police who searched the 28-year-old sales executive’s home in Letham Crescent, Pumpherston, found the animal’s body lying in the kitchen.

But despite evidence about the dog’s starving condition, Ms McAllister was yesterday cleared of causing her pet unnecessary suffering by failing to provide it with adequate 
nutrition and veterinary care. In tears outside court, she commented cryptically: “Somebody tried to ruin my life but they never got away with it.”

Following a defence submission that there was no case to answer, Sheriff Douglas Kinloch ruled that the Crown had failed to prove that Ms McAllister was the sole tenant or occupier of the house where the dog was found and therefore the only person legally responsible for its welfare.

The court was told police found the kitchen floor covered in clumps of dog hair and dog faeces, which appeared to be weeks old.

They called in the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to remove the body from the house.

Senior Scottish SPCA inspector Stuart Murray said he put the dog’s body in a bag to take it for a post-mortem examination.

He said: “I could pick it up quite easily with one hand. Given the breed, I shouldn’t have been able to do that.

“That would definitely have been a two-man lift if it was in good condition. I could basically pick it up with two fingers.”

Mr Murray said he interviewed Ms McAllister who admitted that she was Luna’s owner and was responsible for caring for her.

She told him she had been called by her friend on August 25, 2013 and told her dog was “not that good”.

She told him she went home and sat with the dog “trying to get her to eat and drink”.

She added: “In the early hours she stopped breathing and I had to phone the vets.”

John Good, defending, said there was no case to answer because the Crown had failed to prove that the accused was the sole occupier of the house where the dog was found dead.

newsen@edinburghnews.com