West Yorkshire man left pet dog to starve to death in basement

A West Yorkshire man has been banned from keeping all animals for life after he left his pet rottweiler to starve to death in the basement kitchen of his house after he moved out.

By Joe Cooper
Thursday, 1st July 2021, 2:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st July 2021, 3:02 pm

Steven Hartley, 38, of Halifax Road, Dewsbury left his pet behind in November 2016 when he moved out of his rented house and her emaciated body was found by the landlord of the property months later.

Kirklees Magistrates’ Court heard how the RSPCA was called to the address on Calder Road, Dewsbury on March 9, 2017 after the landlord went to evict Hartley and found the body of Freya in a basement kitchen full of faeces.

A dead snake called Eight Ball was also found in a tank in a living room in a small vivarium with no ultraviolet or heat lamps on inside and no food and water was present.

The basement of a property on Calder Road, Dewsbury, where Steven Hartley left his pet rottweiler to starve to death after he moved out

Inspector Gemma Fowler was sent to the scene and told how she struggled to open the basement kitchen door because of the piles of faeces behind where Freya’s body was found.

She said in her statement: “The floor was completely covered in faeces. So much so, that I couldn't say what the actual floor was made of. It was basically a carpet of faeces.

“I walked through this and over to the dog. I could see that she was deceased and was also in poor bodily condition.

"I can only describe her as being skin and bones. I could pretty much see her entire skeleton through her fur and she was covered in flies and other insects.

“The claws on all of her feet were also overgrown. I looked around the room and could see that there were two bowls on the floor but both of these were empty.

“There were a number of bags of dog food on the worktops but these were also empty. I could not see any food or water available in the room.”

Inspector Fowler removed the bodies of both pets and they were taken for a post mortem examination.

The vet concluded both were emaciated but the snake’s body was too decomposed to ascertain a cause of death.

Freya weighed just 10kg - a third of her ideal expected weight, which would be around 30kg.

The vet considered the post mortem report and concurred that the likely cause of death was a combination of malnutrition and lack of water.

She provided an opinion that the dog suffered for weeks prior to her death.

Inspector Fowler tracked down Hartley to another address in the area and during an interview she conducted he admitted owning the pets and being responsible for them.

But he claimed the snake had died before he moved out of the property and as he was being evicted he had nowhere to take Freya.

In sentencing, the magistrates stated that the case had passed the custody threshold due to the suffering the dog would have experienced and stated he had come extremely close to an immediate custodial sentence.

In mitigation, the court was told Hartley had a very difficult family upbringing and had alcohol problems at the time of the offence.

As well as the lifetime ban on keeping all animals, he was also given a 16-week custodial sentence for both offences suspended for a year and must complete 15 RAR Days.

He was also ordered to pay costs of £300 at the hearing on Friday, June 18.