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Swansea owners of dog with ulcerated tumour in court for unnecessary suffering

Tilly-May’s tumour was the whole the length and width of her abdomen

Credit: RSPCA Cymru

A man and woman from Swansea have been handed suspended prison sentences after they pleaded guilty for causing unnecessary suffering to their dog by failing to get veterinary treatment for her tumour and weight loss.

Terence Patrick Box and Melenie Jane Box, both of Brynawel Crescent, Treboeth, Swansea, were sentenced on Friday October 7 after previously pleading guilty to one offence under the Animal Welfare Act.

The offence was that they caused unnecessary suffering to Tilly-May by their failure to ensure that the pet received timely and appropriate veterinary treatment for a tumour and weight loss.

At Swansea Magistrates’ Court at sentencing Terence Patrick Box was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months. He will also have an electronically monitored Curfew between the hours of  8pm – 6am for  16 weeks,  will be required to undertake 10 Rehabilitation Requirement days, pay £250 costs and a victim surcharge of £128.

Melenie Jane Box was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months. She is also required to undertake 10 Rehabilitation Requirement Days,  a 12 month Mental Health Treatment Requirement, 160 hours of unpaid work. She was also ordered to pay £250 costs and a victim surcharge of £128.

They both were banned from keeping all animals for life and may not apply for the order to be terminated for a period of 5 years.

The RSPCA were alerted to Jack Russell Terrier Tilly-May when her owners took her body to a vets for cremation. Tilly-May – who had died at home – was found to be emaciated with a large, ulcerated and necrotic tumour.

In a written statement provided to the court by RSPCA inspector Gemma Cooper it was stated that Tilly-May was 13-years-old and had never been seen by a vet. She had not received any vaccinations as a puppy or any boosters as an adult.

She said: “No preventative veterinary treatment or advice had been sought over the course of her 13 years. Vets often recommend spaying female dogs to prevent diseases such as mammary gland tumours.

“When Tilly May started to develop a large mass, prompt veterinary treatment was not sought.”

In a written statement from a vet, who examined Tilly-May when her body was taken to the vets by her owners to be cremated, it stated that the most notable finding was a “large mass (tumour) seemingly associated with one of Tilly May’s mammary glands”.

The vet stated: “The mass was spanning the whole length and width of her abdomen and extended down to the level of her paws. There was evidence of ulceration and necrosis of the mass, most likely due to being in contact with the ground when Tilly May tried to walk, which in my opinion would cause pain.

“Tilly May had a body condition score of one out of nine (with one being emaciated and nine obese). This could be a result of the large tumour present (particularly if it had spread to other parts of her body) or of other chronic pathological processes ongoing which unfortunately would be undetectable on a deceased animal.

“In addition to these more significant findings, Tilly May also had very overgrown nails with one or two starting to curl round into the pads of the foot which I feel would have been painful. This is most likely because she was no longer able to walk, at least not for any significant distance, and the nails were no longer wearing down naturally.

“She also had fairly severe dental disease present with heavy calculus build up and marked gum recession particularly over her upper canines. In my opinion this would have been uncomfortable and may have contributed to her poor body condition if Tilly May was more reluctant to eat.

“In my professional opinion, Tilly May is likely to have been suffering for some time. As she was deceased on presentation and we have no history from the owner it is difficult to know exactly how long.”

After sentencing, RSPCA inspector Gemma Cooper, said: “Tilly-May had the biggest tumour that I or my colleagues had ever seen. It is so very sad that they left their beloved pet to get to this stage. It is so important to seek veterinary treatment at the earliest opportunity.”