Leyland woman who buried puppy alive handed tougher sentence and given life ban on keeping animals after losing court appeal

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A Leyland woman who buried her Pomeranian puppy alive has been handed a lifetime ban on keeping all animals after she lost her appeal against conviction and was given a tougher sentence.

Inga Ozola, 45, of Seven Stars Road, Leyland, was found guilty of two animal welfare charges when she appeared at Preston Magistrates’ Court and was sentenced in September. The terrified puppy had been found buried with two broken legs and nerve damage.

At that hearing Ozola was handed 18 weeks in custody, suspended for 18 months, ordered to carry 120 hours of unpaid work and 10 rehabilitation activity requirement days. She was also ordered to pay costs of £2,000 and banned from keeping all animals for 18 months.

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On Friday (March 4) her appeal against the conviction was heard at Preston Crown Court but the presiding judge dismissed the appeal and ordered her to pay a further £2,000 costs - taking the total to £4,000 - and increased her 18 month ban on keeping animals to a lifetime one.

Spencer was discovered buried alive in a black bin bag with two fractured legsSpencer was discovered buried alive in a black bin bag with two fractured legs
Spencer was discovered buried alive in a black bin bag with two fractured legs

The hearing was told how the RSCPA were alerted that a Pomeranian-type male puppy had been found by a member of the public on 27 April 2019, buried in the ground.

The puppy, called Spencer, was found wrapped in a ripped bin liner, with serious injuries which vets later diagnosed as two fractured legs and nerve damage from two separate incidents.

He was discovered buried in a remote location near Worden Park by a couple and their dogs, who had sniffed out the puppy

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.The couple took the dog home and a neighbour then contacted their friend Susie Micalleff who works as an RSPCA inspector.

He was discovered buried in a remote locationHe was discovered buried in a remote location
He was discovered buried in a remote location

She was off-duty but went straight to the property to attend to the puppy and contacted her on-duty colleague RSPCA Inspector Alison Fletcher, who then investigated with Inspector Milcallef.

Inspector Fletcher said: “The spot where Spencer was found was far off the well-walked track and deeper into an undergrowth area.

"The ground the puppy was buried in was very much hidden away and the fact that he had been spotted was extremely lucky.

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"In my opinion the area was chosen to ensure that no one was likely to see him.

"A shallow hole was present with straight edging which gave thought to the fact that this may have been done with a tool rather than scraped by hand. I was aware that the puppy had been found wrapped in a bin liner but this bin liner had been left behind when the puppy was rescued and was no longer at the site now.”

Spencer was taken to the RSPCA Greater Manchester Animal Hospital in Salford for urgent treatment where it was discovered that he had two broken legs and was suffering from nerve damage.

"Despite the best efforts of the vet team to save him, and after seeking a second opinion, sadly it was decided that the kindest thing to do was to put him to sleep to end his suffering on 29 April, 2019.

Around a week later, Inspector Fletcher attended Vets4Pets surgery in Leyland where she was informed by the vets that the photos of the puppy seen in a subsequent RSPCA press appeal had a strong resemblance to a puppy that had recently been treated at the surgery.

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Inspector Fletcher added: “It was also confirmed that the owner of this puppy had now advised the practice he had been rehomed.

"The x-rays of this puppy were shared with the RSPCA vet who confirmed a strong resemblance between the x-rays of the puppy being treated at Vets4Pets and the x-ray of Spencer - which we now know were the same puppy.”

Inspector Fletcher and Inspector Milcallef were then able to track down the owner of Spencer and interview her about what happened.

Ozola said she had bred a litter of Pomeranians and Spencer had injured his leg during the first incident whilst playing with the other dogs.

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"The seven-week-old dog had been taken to Vets4Pets by Ozola on 8 April, 2019 and an x-ray revealed he had a fracture of the right tibia.

"Pain relief was administered and Spencer was confined to a cage to allow his leg to rest and heal. Later on 23 April, Spencer was returned by Ozola for a follow-up examination and a further x-ray showed that the fracture had been displaced.

The owner was given the option of surgical repair at a cost of £2,000, or amputation of the limb, or euthanasia.

The court heard how Ozola had returned home with Spencer to consider her options and had subsequently applied for financial assistance to help with the costs but was unfortunately not eligible.

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The court also heard how Inspector Fletcher had been told by Ozola that Spencer was given away on the morning of April 27, 2019, to an acquaintance.

However, no surname or contact details for the man who had taken Spencer was ever provided. It was explained that the man wanted to give the puppy a home and was going to take him back to Lithuania for treatment.

However, CCTV footage of Ozola, which was shown in court, shows her walking - with a backpack on - towards the area where Spencer was buried on the morning of April 27, 2019, and returning to her house 30 minutes later. When asked what was being carried in the backpack she was wearing, she told the officer it was a bottle of water.

The vet report stated that at the time of sustaining a fracture to the right hind limb tibia on 8 April, 2019, the owner of the puppy had acted in a reasonable manner and taken Spencer for veterinary treatment.

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However, some time subsequent to 23 April, 2019, Spencer had sustained a second fracture of the right forelimb and there is no evidence to indicate that veterinary care was provided for this additional injury.

The report said: “It is therefore my opinion that Spencer would have suffered as a consequence of the fractured right forelimb humerus.

"Spencer would have experienced pain for a period of at least a number of hours, possibly longer.

“It is my opinion that Spencer would have been caused to suffer by the person wrapping him in a black plastic bin liner and partially burying him in the ground while still alive.

“He would have suffered fear and distress for a period of time that cannot be determined from the evidence provided.”

Alison added: “This was a tragic case in which a young puppy suffered, by not receiving the vet treatment he needed for his injuries and then by being subjected to being buried alive.

“This distressing case had a profound and lasting effect on all those involved from the members of the public who found Spencer, myself and my fellow officers involved in investigating and the RSPCA vets and staff.

“I take some comfort in the fact he was found and not left alone to suffer and die - but was surrounded by love and people trying their best to help him.”

After dismissing the appeal the judge praised quick-thinking and caring actions of the couple who found Spencer buried in the ground.

He also paid tribute to the actions of inspector Susie Milcallef who he said: “was off-duty but literally dropped everything and with considerable expedition ensured he was treated, Her actions were above and beyond what would normally be expected, she is worthy of being praised.”

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