A cruel dog owner who claimed she loved her pet like her own child has been jailed after the animal was found so neglected it weighed just HALF what it should.
Sara Loche, 38, who owned two dogs, said she “loved them to bits” and was “distraught” when she was told that one of the dogs had died, a court heard.
Queenie, a German Shepherd cross, weighed less than half the weight she should have and had to be put down immediately because she was so emaciated.
An RSPCA inspector said it was the worst case of suffering and neglect he had seen in his ten-year career.
Loche, of Grimsby, North East Lincs., was convicted in her absence and a warrant was issued for her arrest.
Now she has been jailed for 20 weeks after she was brought before Grimsby Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Thursday, September 1).
Presiding magistrate Pam Reynolds told her: “This is such a serious offence that no other penalty is appropriate other than immediate custody.”
Rachel Taylor, prosecuting, said the dog weighed only 7.5 kilos when it was brought to an animal hospital and vets immediately put it down to end its suffering.
Loche, who received death threats during the trial, caused unnecessary suffering by neglect and failed to investigate the dog’s weight loss knowing it would have the effect of suffering.
The offence was committed between December 27 and January 17.
Inspector Stuart Wainwright was called in to investigate after staff at Blue Cross Animal Hospital in Grimsby, raised the alarm when Queenie, a tan and black cross-bred, was brought to the hospital.
The dog was in a comatose state, its ribs and other bones were clearly visible and its muscles were wasting.
Miss Taylor said Queenie had been the victim of a “severe loss of food” and would have suffered for not less than three weeks.
The dog would have been showing signs of being unwell for a number of weeks before being brought to the Blue Cross.
A petition was launched by concerned animal lovers and signed by more than 1,300 people calling for a second dog allegedly in the care of Sara Loche to be removed by the RSPCA.
Craig Davy, mitigating, told the court that the second dog, Loki, had been taken away from Loche and was in the care of a family member.
Mr Davy said: “She thought of the two dogs as her children.
“She loved them to bits. You may find that hard to believe but that’s the case.
“She loved them and the whole family, in all fairness, treated them with love. That’s what she says.
“Queenie was a lean dog. She was a very active dog and her weight was regularly up and down.
“However, that’s no defence in relation to this allegation.
“She deeply regrets what happened and she was distraught when she was informed that Queenie had passed away.
“She is upset about what has happened to Queenie.
“This is a very unpleasant case. I can’t hide away from that fact. It was very unpleasant for all parties involved. This unpleasant offence is out of character.
“She is not a person who is violent or causes any nuisance to the public.
“Since this offence has been reported in the media, she has received a number of death threats and a number of threats to harm her.”
Mr Davy said that Loche’s daughter gave birth to a baby on August 17, but stress caused by complications surrounding the birth – as well as a mix-up over the trial date – led to Loche missing the court hearing.
As she was led down the stairs from the secure dock, Loche said of the prison sentence: “I can’t do that. My daughter needs me. I have got a daughter. This isn’t fair because I didn’t starve her.”
After the hearing, Inspector Wainwright said: “Poor Queenie was so thin, her bones were visible.
“This poor dog was in the worst condition I have seen in a very long time.”
Loche’s husband, Richard Loche, 46, had previously appeared at court for a similar offence and was given a ten-year ban on keeping all pets, as well as a 12-month community order.