For animals abandoned and left to die, Battersea may be the only hope

World-renowned charity Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has slammed cruel owners who dump their dogs and leave them for dead. 

While MPs today (8 November) debate custodial sentences for those who commit animal cruelty offences and are charged under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, Battersea is speaking out on two shocking and heartbreaking cases of cruelty and neglect that have arrived through its gates in the past fortnight.

One of these was emaciated and shivering Angel, a three-month-old Mongrel found struggling in Wraysbury in October. The puppy could barely stand and was suffering from a terrible skin infection that left her hairless and covered in painful sores.

She was brought in to Battersea’s Old Windsor centre by a concerned member of the public who had spotted her stumbling around a gravel pit. Staff immediately began treating Angel, who was dehydrated and feverish.

Despite round-the-clock veterinary care throughout the night, Angel deteriorated dramatically and the sad decision was made that the kindest thing was to put her to sleep.

Just three days later, staff at Battersea’s London centre took in yet another puppy that had been left for dead in a field in Bermondsey and rescued by police officers.

Five-week-old Jack Russell Terrier Minnie was rushed straight into the Home’s Veterinary Hospital, where it was discovered her legs were so severely deformed she could not support her own weight or move independently. 

A veterinary nurse took Minnie home on foster care but after extensive clinical assessment, it was determined that the tiny puppy was too ill and would never improve, and she too had to be put to sleep.

Battersea’s Head Vet Shaun Opperman said: “In both these cases – and a number of others – we have seen tiny and vulnerable animals abandoned and left to die. Angel and Minnie both suffered needlessly and it was only through the kindness of strangers that they were brought into our centres at all. If it hadn’t been for these passers-by, it’s likely both dogs would have died cold and alone on the streets.

“Working at Battersea, you see the best and the worst of humankind. Our staff devote themselves to the dogs and cats that come through our doors but sometimes there is just nothing we can do to help other than make sure they leave this world peacefully and in the arms of people who care for them.

“So much suffering could be avoided if their owners would just bring them straight into Battersea when they decide they can no longer care for them themselves, rather than abandoning them. We aim to take in any dog or cat, no matter what their medical history is, and help in every way we can. When you take on a pet, you are responsible for that animal until the end. There is no excuse for dumping them on the street like rubbish, to leave them to die alone and in pain.”

Battersea is appealing to the Government to increase sentences for animal cruelty to five years, as is the case in Northern Ireland. The current maximum sentence of six months is neither a deterrent nor a punishment. It compares badly with other countries in Europe, which routinely punish these crimes more thoroughly, and does not paint a picture of a nation of animal lovers. The charity wants to see harsher penalties for those committing offences against animals that fully reflect the true severity of these crimes.