A WOMAN was banned from keeping animals for life yesterday after a court heard how her dogs’ coats were in such an appalling condition that they could hardly walk or see.
Pauline Kinghorn, 63, neglected her three shih-tzus so badly that an RSPCA inspector who rescued them from her filth-laden home said he barely recognised them as dogs.
An experienced vet and expert dog groomer said their overgrown and unkempt coats were in the worst condition of neglect she had ever seen.
The dogs’ fur was so long, and matted with food and faeces, that they had difficulty seeing – and had to drag themselves along the floor using their front legs in order to move at all.
Magistrates in Bedlington, Northumberland, heard that the three shih-tzus had been neglected for five or six months – and that an elderly German Shepherd dog found at Kinghorn’s home was in such poor health that it had to be put down.
Yesterday Kinghorn, who lives alone in Third Row, Linton Colliery near Ashington, was handed a lifetime disqualification from keeping animals. She was also given an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and a two-month curfew order, which involves her having to stay at her home between 7pm and 7am and being electronically tagged.
In addition, she was ordered to pay £250 towards the RSPCA’s costs, and the magistrates ordered the transfer of all of her animals to the charity.
Kinghorn – who was banned from owning cats for five years in 2003 – admitted causing unnecessary suffering to the three shih-tzus and the German Shepherd between October last year and April this year.
She also admitted four charges of failing to ensure the welfare of the four dogs and 12 cats in her care.
The court was told the animals were found living in the “most appalling and unimaginable” conditions.
RSPCA inspector Trevor Walker, who dealt with the case, said: “I have worked for the RSPCA for more than 15 years and during that time have witnessed some pretty horrific things.
“However, I can honestly say that I’ve never seen such a deeply depressing sight as these three shih-tzu dogs. I can only describe them as dog-like, because there were no discernible points of the mouth, nose or eyes through the mass of fur and dreadlocks.”
Paul Watson, defending, said Kinghorn had health problems, including visual impairment caused by dense cataracts. He said she had no one to help her look after the animals.
“This is not a case of deliberate cruelty, but one of neglect. She didn’t know where to turn for assistance,” he said.