Vet cross examined on day three of RSPCA trial

The Northern Echo: Richard Abraham Richard Abraham

A DOG seized from a couple by the RSPCA had some of the worst teeth a vet had ever seen, a court heard yesterday (Friday, January 17).

Veterinary surgeon Jacqui Paterson was giving evidence at Darlington Magistrates’ Court on the third day of the trial of Margaret Jamieson, 68, and her husband, Richard Abraham, 66, who both deny seven animal welfare charges.

The RSPCA seized 25 dogs, mostly dachshunds, from the couple’s home in Heighington in February and Ms Paterson said the ailments suffered by some included bad teeth, ear infections and skin problems caused by flea infestation.

She also graded three dogs as being emaciated – with a body condition at the lowest end of the scale – and said that some of the dogs’ ear infections were so bad that pus and wax was clearly visible around the ears.

Several had to have their teeth removed due to the extent of their problems, and describing one particular animal, Ms Paterson said: “I have to say in my experience these were some of the worst teeth I have come across.”

She added that many of the dogs’ medical problems would have been obvious to a “competent and humane” owner and would not have reached such a level if the animals’ needs were being properly addressed.

During cross examination, defence barrister Sara-Lise Howe suggested that Ms Paterson was ‘making up’ some of her evidence.

She pointed out that Ms Paterson’s verbal recollections of the dogs’ living environment, such as kennel areas being cold and smelling of urine, were not recorded anywhere in her contemporaneous notes or witness statement.

Miss Howe also questioned why in some cases there were no written medical records to back up Ms Paterson’s assertion that some dogs had been treated for ear infections.

Ms Paterson admitted that she was “somewhat disappointed” that she could not provide such documentation.

The court had previously heard that when the RSPCA seized the dogs, around ten dachshunds were loose in the living room and the rest were in wooden cages in an annexe.

Larger dogs - spaniels and a german pointer - were kenneled outside and in a stable inside a barn.

Miss Howe queried the basis on which the dogs’ environment was deemed unsuitable and pointed out that an RSPCA officer present during the seizure had described the outdoor dogs as being “bright and alert”.

The trial is set to continue for a further day and a half next week, although Miss Howe indicated an intention to make legal submissions regarding some of the RSPCA’s evidence.

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