Case Snapshot
Case ID: 18101
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (pit-bull)
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Prosecutor(s): Clive McKeag
Defense(s): Val Bell
Judge(s): Lorraine Montgomerie

Images for this Case

Tuesday, Jun 1, 2010

Disposition: Convicted
Case Images: 2 files available

» David Marshall
» Pearl Marshall

A MOTHER and son who left their dogs underfed were branded "shocking" and told they had "behaved disgracefully" by an outraged magistrate.

Pearl and David Marshall, of Shrewsbury Terrace, South Shields, left no fewer than eight Staffordshire bull terriers, including four puppies, in different stages of neglect.

One of the dogs was even seen drinking out of the toilet by RSPCA inspectors alerted to their plight.

David Marshall, 24, pleaded guilty at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court to one charge of failing to ensure the welfare of an animal, and his 42-year-old mother pleaded guilty to six charges, two the same as her son and four of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

The Staffordshire bull terriers, owned by David Marshall, were being kept at his grandmother's address, in St Mark's Way, South Shields, while he looked for a suitable house.

RSPCA inspectors were called after sightings of the malnourished dogs in June last year, and inspectors found four adults and four puppies inside at different stages of neglect.

Clive McKeag, prosecuting for the RSCPA, said: "When Mrs Marshall answered the door, the inspector could see straight away that one dog appeared to be underweight.

"Ms Marshall became aggressive and pushed the dogs out of sight before shutting the door on the inspector.

"As a result, the inspector went to get the police, who have the authority to enter. When they did, there were three Staffordshire Bull Terriers, who looked very underweight, with their ribs and spine clearly visible.

"There was also a puppy with an eye infection and another with a cut nose that had become infected.

"Only one water bowl was found in the house, which was empty, and another adult dog was seen drinking out of the toilet."

The pair admitted that David Marshall owned the dogs, but his mother was looking after them for him. Mr McKeag added: "All of the animals were taken to a vet who said four were severely thin and were suffering from malnourishment and neglect.

"While the other four were not suffering at the time, it was likely that they would in the future - an offense in itself.

"During interviews with the pair, they both said they thought the dogs looked a little underweight, but didn't think there was anything to be alarmed about."

Val Bell, defending, said: "They are both ashamed to be here and deeply regret their actions.

"David Marshall has had one of the dogs since he was 14, the other three adults belonged to his former partner, and when they split he kept the dogs.

"One of them had puppies to one of the others, which was unexpected.

"Marshall has another partner and a lovely, but boisterous, young son. He is a proud father and his son took priority.

"While he was trying to sort out a house, the dogs were staying with his grandmother at St Mark's Way, where his mum visited every day."

Ms Bell told the court that when Marshall lost his job recently, he was forced to buy cheaper dog food, which they didn't respond well to.

She added: "It was an unfortunate sequence of circumstances. Ms Marshall was under a considerable amount of stress at the time, and was looking after her seriously ill mother."

Chairman of the bench Lorraine Montgomerie said: "David Marshall, this is shocking. You have behaved disgracefully because you've had a dog since you were 14.

"You should've and would've known how to look after these animals and could've got help.

"Pearl Marshall, you are not malnourished but the animals were. You have also acted disgracefully.

"The pictures of these animals are heartbreaking. This is a dreadful thing to have done and I'm glad to see you are ashamed."

The case was adjourned until Tuesday for probation service reports.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: "We're pleased they finally admitted the offences. We never take any prosecution lightly, it has to be serious before we consider taking someone to court.

"Hopefully, we will see them receive an appropriate sentence next week."


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