Two men guilty of 'prolonged period of neglect' of dogs used to guard Sheffield building site

The compound where the dogs were being kept.
The compound where the dogs were being kept.
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Two men have been found guilty of neglecting three dogs used to guard a Sheffield building site.

Adrian Appleyard, 41, and Karl Harwood, 39, were found guilty in their absence at Sheffield Magistrates' Court on Wednesday of mistreating and failing to ensure the welfare of an Anatolian shepherd called Athena and two Caucasian shepherds called Koda and Sasha.

The dogs were malnourished.

The dogs were malnourished.

Andrew Davison, prosecuting, said the dogs were kept as guard dogs on a building site on Hollin Busk Lane, Deepcar and were left unattended between January 20 and January 23, prompting RSPCA inspectors to visit the site.

Insp Kim Greaves, one of those who attended, told the court the dogs had been left in three shelters but the roof of one covering two of the dogs - Koda and Sasha - had blew off, leaving them exposed to 'bitterly' cold conditions and snow.

She said she first visited the site on Friday, January 19, following a call from a member of the public and when she returned on Monday, January 22, the set-up was exactly the same, with tape seals placed on the gates of the compounds by inspectors still in place.

Ms Greaves said: "The dog at the front (Athena) was brighter in herself but that's probably because we had been able to get food and water to her but the other two dogs, because I know the breed, we would expect them to be alert and guarding the site but they weren't.

The dogs were left without shelter during 'bitterly cold' conditions in January.

The dogs were left without shelter during 'bitterly cold' conditions in January.

"I was concerned because it was the first time I had seen these dogs in daylight. I made the decision to get a vet's assessment. It wasn't possible to get one on the Monday and it was forecast to be slightly warmer on the Tuesday so we delayed it to the Tuesday to give the owners the chance to do the right thing."

Ms Greaves said she could see Athena's ribs quite clearly, indicating she was malnourished, and added that she thought the dogs had suffered a 'prolonged period of neglect'.

Fellow RSCPA inspector Jenny Ronksley said she visited the site on Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21 and left business cards at the site requesting the owners to contact her, which they didn't.

Dr Jenny Turner, a veterinary surgeon at Springfield Vets also attended on Tuesday, January 23, along with Ms Greaves and Ms Ronksley and two police officers.

The RSPCA assess the dogs.

The RSPCA assess the dogs.

She said the dogs had no bedding or insulation and plastic containers in the shelters restricted the amount of space the dogs had and added that their 'matted, dirty' coats would have prevented their ability to keep warm and dry.

Dr Turner rated the dogs on a body condition scale, which ranks them between one and nine - one being malnourished and nine being obese.

She ranked Koda as two out of nine, Sahsa as two or three out of nine and Athena as four out of nine.

Appleyard, of Springhead Road, Rothwell, Leeds, and Harwood, of Ivy Gardens, Bramley, Leeds, who both failed to attend court, were found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and failing to take steps to ensure the dogs' need for a suitable environment, a suitable diet and failing to protect them from pain, injury, suffering and disease.

District Judge Paul Healey said Harwood claimed in interview with RSPCA inspectors attended the site over the weekend to tend to the dogs but had climbed through a window rather than through the gates to the compound, which had tape seals on them.

But in finding the men guilty of all charges, Mr Healey said: "I don't accept that because it's just not plausible that he would climb through a window or over s six or seven foot fence there was a gate.

"In my view there is overwhelming evidence that the environment was not suitable for the keeping of animals."

He also issued a warrant for Appleyard's and Harwood's arrest after they failed to attend court.