Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19531
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Defense(s): Ian Denley, Guy Adams

Friday, Aug 5, 2011

Disposition: Convicted

» Nicholas Fitzgerald-Roberts
» Bernadette Fitzgerald-Roberts

The owners of a luxury canine hotel were banned from keeping animals today after a dog died from being neglected and starved while in their care.

Collie-cross Izzie died 11 days after checking into Burlington Green Acres in Somerset - described as a 'loving home from home' run by Bernadette and Nicholas Fitzgerald-Roberts.

The nine-year-old pet collapsed with convulsions and suffered from an open wound infested with maggots.

Tests found the pet had not eaten for at least 24 hours and had been in a poor condition for up to three days before her death.

Mrs Fitzgerald-Roberts, 48, and her 47-year-old husband each admitted two charges under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 at Taunton Deane Magistrates Court in Somerset.

Mr Fitzgerald-Roberts was banned from looking after or keeping animals for 12 months while his wife was prohibited for six months. Their kennel license was also suspended for six months.

Izzie's owners, David and Lesley Phelps, of Hemyock, Devon, had specially chosen the hotel in Somerset because of its 'luxury' claims.

Speaking after an earlier hearing, Mr Phelps said: 'We feel the Fitzgerald-Roberts have let us and Izzie down.

'Nothing will bring Izzie back. She was part of the family and went everywhere with us.

'One of the main reasons we chose Burlington Green Acres was their assurance that they were able to give individual attention to the dogs.

'If anything positive can come of this we hope the authorities introduce frequent checks on kennels and catteries to ensure standards of animal welfare.'

The court was previously told how Mr and Mrs Phelps dropped off Izzie at the dog hotel on July 25 last year, expecting to pick her up on August 14 when they returned from a holiday.

But Izzie collapsed 11 days later on August 5 was rushed to the vet unconscious, soaking wet and with a weak pulse.

Vet Nicola Newman discovered she had an open wound, infested with maggots, on her hindquarters, and had not eaten for 24 hours.

Izzie was wrapped in blankets but began appearing to convulse a couple of hours later.

She passed away just half an hour later, at 2.30pm. The vet immediately reported the case to the RSPCA, sparking an investigation.

In a statement read to an earlier hearing, Nicola Newman said: 'Izzie's condition should have been noticed in the two or three days before her death.

'She suffered and died unnecessarily.'

Neil Scott, prosecuting, said: 'This is a case of neglect, not cruelty. The offenders were in a position of special responsibility.'

Mrs Fitzgerald-Roberts, of Upper Cheddon, near Taunton, Somerset, was responsible for overall supervision as the kennels' owner, the hearing was told.

Her husband, of Brixham, Devon, carried out the daily care of animals at the £14 a night dog hotel.

On its website, Burlington Green Acres claims to be a 'loving home from home' for dogs, with centrally heated rooms purpose built onto the house.

This means the 'dogs get a home not a kennel', according to the site, which also boasts that the center is set in 'acres of land'.

It adds: 'Our staff offer a quality and reliable service you can count on and relax safe in the knowledge your dog is being looked after and is happy.'

In mitigation, Ian Denley, for Mr Fitzgerald-Roberts, said Izzie's long hair made it hard to spot the wound and maggots.

Guy Adams, for Mrs Fitzgerald-Roberts added: 'She failed to adequately supervise her husband, who had training and experience looking after dogs.'

On top of his animal ban, Mr Fitzgerald-Roberts also received a 12-month community order, with a 150 hours unpaid work requirement, and fined £1,847.

Burlington Green Acres will have its license revoked for six months but Mr Adams asked for 28 days grace for the animals to be removed from the sanctuary.


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