A man from Preston, Lancashire, has been disqualified from keeping animals for four years after being caught on camera beating his dog.
The crossbreed, Disco, can be heard crying out as he is beaten and shouted at in distressing footage. His owner, John Chris Joshua Bunting, appeared before Blackpool Magistrates’ Court earlier this week, pleading guilty to one offence of causing unnecessary suffering to Disco under the Animal Welfare Act and was sentenced on Monday 10 June.
The RSPCA was called by police on 8 September last year after they had arrested Bunting, seized Disco, and taken him to a vet practice. RSPCA inspector Alison Fletcher said, “I met Disco before I saw the footage, which is distressing to watch.
“He was brought into the room by a male vet and he was extremely frightened. He had no obvious injuries but it was impossible to touch him without causing him distress. When I attempted to pick him up to place him in the kennel at the rear of my van and take him to the animal centre, he went into blind panic. I did eventually manage to coax him inside after around 20 minutes of sitting with him and calmly reassuring him.”
In the first of three video clips Bunting can be seen entering the rear garden of a property on Garstang Road North, Wesham, and walk over a grassed area partially out of view. A dog can be heard to cry out. He then appears at the corner of the house holding Disco in his left hand, by the scruff of the neck. He strikes the dog with his right hand a number of times while carrying him into the house. Disco can be heard to cry out again a number of times.
A second clip shows shadowy figures behind the frosted glass of the rear house door. Noises consistent with a slap and a dog vocalising can be heard. The door opens, a man’s voice can be heard to shout, “Get out”, and Disco runs out into the garden followed by Bunting. The dog runs onto the grassy area and sits down with his back to the garden wall and facing the house. The dog remains in the garden and Bunting returns back into the house.
A third clip shows Bunting standing over Disco before picking him up by the neck. Bunting carries Disco over to a brick-built outhouse within which the dog is placed. Bunting picks up a long piece of polystyrene and repeatedly hits something inside the outhouse. It is not clear whether he is striking Disco, though this was admitted by Bunting in interview.
The court heard that Bunting handled Disco in the manner seen in the footage because Disco wouldn’t go to the toilet, and would sit on the grass and not want to come in, then when he came back into the house he would urinate and defecate there. He said that he was trying to move Disco from behind the door to mop the floor.
Veterinary opinion was that it was likely that Disco had been subjected to shouting or violence when urinating and defecating, which caused him to become anxious when performing these bodily functions. This led him to associate the garden with a place in which he experienced anxiety. In a similar way, when Disco urinated or defecated in the house and he was punished, there would be an association with an unpleasant experience in the house.
“This poor dog was in turmoil, caused to suffer physically and mentally,” said Inspector Fletcher.
“It has taken a great deal of love, patience and training from the wonderful staff caring for him at RSPCA Southport, Ormskirk and District Branch Animal Centre, but I saw him today and he’s like a different dog. I’m very happy to say that he’ll be looking for a new home soon.”
As well as being disqualified, Bunting was sentenced to an 18-month community order, 15 rehabilitation action requirement days, 300 hours of unpaid work, and ordered to pay £500 costs as well as a £85 victim surcharge.
Images by RSPCA.