Woman who left dead and rotting dog in her South Shields home banned from keeping animals for 15 years

A woman who left her dead and rotting dog in her house when she went away to find new work has been banned from keeping animals by a judge.

Shanon Davidson, 23, admitted to RSPCA investigators her bloodhound cross-type pet Milo had been deceased for two days before she made the trip. They found his corpse infested with maggots at her home in Hatfield Square, South Shields – an indication he had been dead for six weeks.

The team attended after worried neighbours reported flies and the putrid smell coming from inside the property, between May 8 and June 10. Davidson had travelled to Reading for an employment opportunity while year-old Milo lay dead in his cage. She pleaded guilty to two animal cruelty charges and was jailed for 10 months, suspended for 18 months, and banned from owning an animal for 15 years.

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At South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Zoe Passfield told Davidson that Milo’s squalid death was “truly horrific” and she had “left him to rot”.

The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates Court.

Judge Passfield said: “I accept that at the time of these offences you were struggling with your mental health and felt you were without help, and that the harm you caused to Milo was not deliberate or callous. However, he was a 12-month-old dog, essentially a puppy, and entirely reliant on you for food, water and veterinary care. You failed to provide these needs.

“The most appalling part of your behaviour happened after he died, when you went away and left him in a cage, alone, dead, until your neighbours had to call the RSPCA. It’s truly horrific and has had a lasting effect on the experienced RSPCA officers who found him.”

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RSPCA prosecutor Alex Bousfield revealed the charity’s staff had asked Davidson to sign Milo over to them during a visit in March, but she had refused. They had found the animal in good health but in a cage indoors and without food or water.

Mr Bousfield said: “It’s a case where the dog was found dead, so it’s clearly higher harm. You may also conclude that culpability may be higher as well. The maggots, just a routine search shows that for flies to lay maggots, it is six weeks.

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“The defendant has indicated that the dog had died three weeks before, but that’s clearly untrue. She left it in the house and went on a leisure or other trip. There was food there which may have been laid after the animal had died.”

Davidson pleaded guilty to charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and failing in her duty to ensure an animal’s welfare.

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Tim Gregory, defending, said Davidson had not intentionally caused Milo to suffer and was having her own personal crisis.

He said: “I don’t think this is a case you can say is gratuitous. It was a relatively short period of time. She should have handed the dog over in March, but she thought she could cope.”

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Davidson was jailed for 10 months for causing unnecessary suffering and to four months for the second offence, to run concurrently and both suspended. She must complete 25 rehabilitation days and pay £1,080 court costs.