Smiler, a one-year-old female American bulldog, was in a dreadful state when rescued: beaten and covered in blood, she was languishing in the bath in her owner’s home in Keighley, West Yorkshire.
At a trial on 3 December, owner Gary David Bell was convicted of three offences under the Animal Welfare Act: not only had he harmed Smiler, but he had also failed to provide veterinary attention for her injuries and had applied cleaning products to her head and eyes. The poor dog had blood on her head and her eyes were swollen shut.
RSPCA Inspector Sarah Bagley says, “I went to Bell’s home with police after having a couple of dealings with him about his dog Smiler, who had a condition called cherry eye, and becoming increasingly concerned about her.
“Initially there was no reply, then myself and one of the police officers heard heavy breathing through the ground floor bathroom window. I was horrified to see Smiler in the bath with a bloodied tea towel on her head.
“A friend of Bell’s let us into the property and we found Smiler barely conscious. She and the bath were wet and there was a bottle of human shampoo and Flash household cleaner which appeared to have been used on her.
“Between us we were able to get her out of the flat and I rushed her straight to a local vet practice. By the time I got her there her eyes were swollen shut. She was found to have multiple injuries including two large wounds to the top of her head which needed to be stitched, bruising to the head and a loose tooth that needed to be removed. Her eyes were flushed to get rid of any cleaning product.”
Sarah adds, “Bell didn’t offer any plausible explanation for Smiler’s predicament – in interview he said that she had probably cut her head on barbed wire during a walk in the woods.”
However, this claim didn’t hold up at trial. The injuries were deemed “not accidental” upon veterinary examination, which also concluded Bell’s attempts at cleaning the blood off Smiler after the attack would have caused her pain.
After being convicted, Bell was due to attend court on Tuesday 7 January for sentencing, but failed to appear and was arrested on warrant. Two days later he was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison and disqualified from keeping animals for life at Bradford Magistrates’ Court. He was also ordered to pay £121 victim surcharge.
Under veterinary care, Smiler slowly began to recover and her personality stated to shine through.
Sarah says, “She is recovering well, gaining weight, her skin and coat are improving and she seems to be a much brighter, happier dog. The cherry eye is being monitored on vet advice at the moment.
“Smiler is currently being cared for by the great staff at RSPCA Sheffield where everyone absolutely loves her and she will be put up for adoption soon.
“She is a very sweet dog who loves people and I can’t wait to hear that she’s thriving in a loving new home.”
Images and video by RSPCA