Gagged her pet with duct tape to go on holiday

A dog owner who gagged her pet with duct tape to go on holiday for the weekend has been banned from keeping animals for 15 years

Elizabeth Steel abandoned the Collie cross without adequate food or water after covering its face with a taped-on muzzle so it could not bark.

Neighbours in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, alerted police after hearing the animal whimpering.

Steel, 44, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to the dog.

Sheriff Alistair Watson placed her on supervision for 18 months and also imposed an 80-day tagging order.

He said: “Ordinary members of the public would be absolutely shocked about what you did here, and when I heard the circumstances I was disgusted.”

Police forced entry to Steel’s home after the neighbour spotted the dog, called Rio, through a window.

He was found to be infested with fleas and suffering from sores and a skin condition, the town’s sheriff court heard.

Steel admitted causing unnecessary suffering by taping a muzzle to the dog’s face, denying it food, water or a means of escape, and failing to provide adequate care and treatment between 18 and 19 July.

Blaire Ford, prosecuting, said an upstairs neighbour could hear whimpering below and knew Steel had left the day before for a weekend away.

Miss Ford added: “He looked through the kitchen window and observed the dog locked within the kitchen with a muzzle on, which was wrapped with black tape, and noted that there was no food or water.”

The man called the Scottish SPCA, which was unable to respond initially, before contacting police the following day. Officers broke in using a battering ram after seeing Rio lying motionless.

Miss Ford said: “The dog was alive and had begun to move around and police noted there was no food or water in the dog bowls.

“The dog was wearing a muzzle wrapped in black tape and had a collar on which was too tight.”

Rio was taken to a vet for treatment, found temporary refuge and has since been re-homed.

Sheriff Watson told Steel: “On reading the terms of the report I am persuaded you are a foolish person who has behaved disgracefully towards the animal, but not with a cruel intention.

“You are clearly not a suitable person to own or have charge of an animal for the long-term.

“You and animals will not be coming close for the near future.”

Scottish SPCA Ch Supt Mike Flynn said: “Whilst we always look for a lifetime ban on keeping animals in cases of neglect like this, we are pleased the accused has received a 15-year ban.

“We hope Steel will seriously consider her ability to care for any other pets in the future.”

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