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Grandma jailed for loving her dog of 18 years

August 14, 2011

When her loyal labrador became old, frail and slow, pensioner Pauline Spoor simply couldn’t bear to have him put down.

Living alone, she relied on the constant companionship of 18-year-old Dexter, who although suffering from severe arthritis and conjunctivitis, would sit quietly by her feet.But while Mrs Spoor accepts her devotion to her sickly pet was misguided, it has brought a draconian response from authorities which has left her shocked, humiliated and, she says, treated like a common yob.

The 71-year-old was this week hauled before the courts where, convicted of animal cruelty, she was ordered to wear an electronic tag on her ankle as part of a three-month curfew.And the grandmother has been warned that if she breaks the community order, which forbids her leaving her house at night, she could even be sent to prison. Yesterday Mrs Spoor said: ‘I know I’ve done wrong but I feel absolutely humiliated at having to wear a tag as if I am some common criminal. It just seems so over the top.

‘I was simply guilty of being too blinded by love. Yes, he was walking slow, but I am too. We both had arthritis. I still miss him even now. He was my best friend. I knew I was wrong for not putting him to sleep, but I thought as long as his tail was still wagging and he was still wanting to come out to the field with me, I could wait a few more days.’

The grandmother, who was ordered to pay £250 costs, said: ‘I’ve never hurt an animal in my life. To be given a tag, I thought was disgusting.‘I always thought they gave people an electronic tag if they’ve got an Asbo or if they are some kind of violent yob.’

Police broke into the pensioner’s home in Hattersley, Greater Manchester, in May after being alerted by RSPCA officials.They found Dexter suffering from medical conditions including fur loss, arthritis, lameness in his hind leg and conjunctivitis.

He was put down shortly afterwards and the animal welfare charity charged Mrs Spoor, a divorcee, with causing Dexter unnecessary suffering. She admitted the charge before Tameside magistrates.

Mark Harper, prosecuting, said: ‘Dexter was dull and lethargic. The defendant said she had not been to a vet because he was incontinent and no bus or taxi would take him.’

Mrs Spoor, who rescued Dexter after he was abandoned 11 years ago, said: ‘I couldn’t afford a vet call-out. Dexter was a lovely dog. He would sense how you were feeling. If you were feeling down he’d put his paws on your knees and wagged his tail. If you started crying he’d lick your tears away.’

Last night, the RSPCA said: ‘We have adopted the same principles as the Crown Prosecution Service and don’t make the decision to prosecute lightly, but in this case we feel it was the right and proper thing to do.

‘Dexter was a very old dog and was, according to an independent vet who examined him, suffering from painful arthritis, for which he was receiving no treatment.‘He also had a long-standing and untreated skin condition and conjunctivitus which would have been obvious to anyone. We only became involved because a member of the public was so concerned by Dexter’s situation that they contacted us.

We appreciate it can be worrying to take a much-loved pet to the vets when you are fearful of what advice they might give. Sadly, it may not have been necessary for Dexter to be put to sleep if Mrs Spoor had sought that advice sooner.We did not, and would not, seek for anyone to be tagged electronically in a case like this. Sentencing is a matter for the court.Sentencing is a matter for the court and not the decision of the RSPCA.

‘Our sole concern is animal welfare, and we are sorry that in this case, Dexter was suffering and in considerable pain.‘The RSPCA didn’t, and does not have the authority, to break into Mrs Spoor’s home, as reported.

‘An inspector attended the property and was concerned about Dexter so called police who used their powers of entry.’

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