A MAN who claimed he ‘loved his pet puppy to bits’ has been found guilty of beating it repeatedly over the head causing it to swell like a tennis ball.
Leyton Harford was convicted of two counts of causing unnecessary harm to an animal at Worcester Magistrates Court last Thursday (January 29) although the 31-year-old from Shaw Walk did not attend the hearing because he was unwell so a warrant has been issued for his immediate arrest.
In November 2013 the RSPCA were called to Harford’s flat after complaints a puppy had been hit 15 times over the head with a chew toy and also ‘kicked until it collapsed’.
When inspector Pippa Boyd approached the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, called Riddle, she said he was very subdued with noticeable swelling on his head.
Harford claimed the injury had been caused after Riddle went out to the toilet and disappeared around a corner only to yelp moments later when he heard the sound of a car driving away.
But Rafe Turner, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said the owner’s story changed three times during questioning adding it was ‘blindingly obvious’ he had beat the dog.
A vet called as an expert witness said it would be nearly impossible for that type of injury to be caused by a car without there being other cuts and grazes. He also said it was unlikely it was caused by a kick as well.
Pictures were shown to the court of Riddle with the ‘half-tennis ball sized’ lump on his forehead, which Harford had claimed were taken by a relative on the night of the accident.
But the vet witness said the swelling would have take up to 18 hours to get that bad.
Harford did admit to the charge of causing further unnecessary harm to the puppy by failing to take him for treatment after the injury claiming it would have cost him a ‘fortune’ and he was already ‘on the sick’ with Christmas approaching.
During the investigation he said: “I know I did wrong, I made a mistake but I have been a good owner and I have put time and effort into him.”
While Riddle was in temporary foster care he hid under the table for half an hour after weeing by the back door, the court heard. The vet said this was a result of him being ‘extremely scared’ of the repercussions.
On delivering the verdict magistrate John Taylor said: “The defendant showed total disregard for the welfare of this dog. He could not give a credible explanation as to what happened, when it happened and how.”
Afterwards Insp Boyd added: “We are extremely pleased with the outcome. The dog has been rehomed now and the difference in his behaviour has been amazing.
“We rely on people giving us information and it is only because someone did in this case that we have been able to remove this puppy from a bad situation.”