Scottish Daily Mail

Spared jail, owner who left 3 dogs to die in car as he went to gym for FIVE hours

- Daily Mail Reporter

A DOG owner has been spared jail after leaving three dogs to die in agony in his car as temperatur­es soared to 104F.

Jonathan Theobald, 65, left his pets Daisy, Mitch and Rascal, all Staffordsh­ire cross-breeds, in baking heat for five hours while he went to the gym.

Yesterday he was given an 18-week prison sentence suspended for two years and banned from owning pets for ten years after admitting causing unnecessar­y suffering to the dogs.

A previous hearing was told the animals had tried to claw their way out of the car before suffering seizures and dying of heat exposure.

‘These animals would have suffered immensely,’ William Powell, prosecutin­g, told Peterborou­gh magistrate­s’ court yesterday. ‘They would have gone through stages of panic, heat stress and likely seizures and injury in an attempt to escape before dying.

‘All three dogs suffered unnecessar­ily for as long as they were left in the car.’

Mr Powell said in the light of current raised awareness on the issue of leaving

‘Animals suffered immensely’

dogs in cars, ‘this case is unforgivab­le’.

The rescue dogs, which ranged in age from ten to 13, had been left in Theobald’s silver VW Passat outside the Vivacity gym in Peterborou­gh on June 16 at 10.29am.

The outside temperatur­e rose to 66.2F, rocketing to 104F inside the locked vehicle.

The court heard Theobald spent five hours in the gym.

When he finally returned, Theobald found two of the dogs dead before trying to save the third using CPR after noticing it was showing signs of life.

Mr Powell said: ‘He left the dogs without any obvious access to air, water or ventilatio­n.’ He added: ‘The abiding mystery of this case is why he was in the gym for five hours and why he did not look after the dogs.’

The court heard that gym staff saw Theobald carrying the dogs at about 3pm in an apparent attempt to bury them behind the building, and they called the police.

By the time officers arrived he had left and was later found at his home in Peterborou­gh with the animals in his car. He told officers: ‘I left them in the car too long, it is a fair cop’.

Mr Powell concluded: ‘Although this is likely to be viewed as a case of inexcusabl­e recklessne­ss, it is very unlikely to be a case of preplanned cruelty.’

Richard Brown, defending, urged the magistrate­s not to disqualify the retired journalist from owning animals in the future.

He added that childless Theobald had volunteere­d to work with the RSPCA to raise awareness about the dangers of leaving animals in cars.

He said: ‘Mr Theobald is probably one of the kindest and best dog owners. He is a dog lover. He and his wife rescued these dogs, they did not buy the most fashionabl­e pooch, they rescued them.’ Mr Brown said his client was ‘caught out by the British weather,’ adding that Theobald thought the intermitte­nt showers forecast that day would keep the dogs cool.

As Theobald wept, Mr Brown said: ‘If an experience­d dog owner can be caught out then so can anybody else.

‘Until that day in June, he was a model dog owner, he misjudged the climate and made a terrible error.’ Passing sentence, magistrate Timothy Cook said: ‘There is no way to escape the fact this is a serious matter... This was reckless rather than pre-planned cruelty.’

Theobald, who wore a navy jacket, green shirt and purple tie, grimaced as he was told he would be banned from owning animals for a decade with no chance of appeal for five years.

He was ordered to pay a £250 prosecutio­n cost, a victim surcharge of £115, costs for the vet’s post-mortem report of £160 and a £365 fine.

Mr Cook said: ‘No figure will compensate for the loss of lives of those dogs.’

RSPCA inspector Justin Stubbs said: ‘Many people seem to be under the impres- sion that it’s okay to leave their dogs in the car for a number of hours while they work out, go shopping or attend an appointmen­t. I’m very pleased the court have taken the matter very seriously.’

Theobald refused to speak to reporters as he left court.

 ??  ?? Reckless: Jonathan Theobald outside court yesterday. Left: His dogs died in a VW Passat
Reckless: Jonathan Theobald outside court yesterday. Left: His dogs died in a VW Passat
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