A man who dumped a dog in a suitcase in Harehills cemetery caused the Staffordshire Bull Terrier 'enoumous' suffering as it took weeks to starve, the RSPCA said today.
The case left the city shocked when the body of Leo, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, was discovered at Harehills Cemetery by an RSPCA inspector in January.
On Tuesday Mason Medford was due to appear at Leeds Magistrate's Court facing three charges under the Animal Welfare Act but the 19 year-old failed, without explanation, to attend the hearing.
It was agreed the case would go ahead in his absence and he was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to Leo, between December 25, 2017 and January 25, 2018, by failing to ensure he was provided with a suitable diet of adequate nutrition resulting in physical deterioration; between the same dates causing unnecessary suffering by failing to provide reasonable daily care and supervision and between November 26, 2017 and 25 January, 2018 failing to meet the needs of Leo by failing to provide him with a suitable diet.
RSPCA Inspector Mason said: “He shut Leo in a room with no food or water and didn’t come back until after he was dead.
“The house was disgusting, there was faeces and urine everywhere, and splatters of blood.
“The veterinary evidence found that he had suffered for a minimum of four weeks. He died of multiple organ failure after his body shut down.”
RSPCA inspector Sarah Mason said: “Leo’s emaciated body was found crammed into a black suitcase, wrapped in a towel.
“He was in a shocking state with almost every bone in his body visible. The collar he had around his neck was just hanging off him. When vets weighed him he was just 11.6kg, literally a skeleton of a dog.
“There’s no doubt that this poor boy suffered an enormous amount before he died.”
Earlier on Tuesday the court heard that Leo had been purchased by a couple that Medford was friends with for £100 from a seller in York but he didn't get on with the dog they already had. The couple asked the seller if he would have Leo back but he said no and so they asked if Medford would have the dog.
On November 26 Medford took Leo home to his address at Clifton Grove in Leeds, with a 25kg sack of dog food that the friend Adele Green had given him. He later told police, after handing himself in following social media coverage of the horrific discovery, that the dog had growled at Medford and acted aggressively so he left him in the house.
Andrew Davidson, agent prosecutor for the RSPCA, said: "The case can be summed up very sadly but very simply. The defendant left Leo at the house in question, locked him in a room and never came back. He left him in the house without food and water and did not return to look after him at any point. When he finally did return he was deceased."
The court heard evidence from housing officer Sarah Blackburn that she visited the house on more than one occasion due to concerns about the dog and health and safety. She reported they found "squalid conditions through the property, rubbish and clothing and the kitchen was a disgusting state."
There was faeces, urine and splatters of blood in the house.
A statement was also read out from Medford's mother, Emma Medford, who said she had gone to the house to collect clothes in January this year and was confronted by faeces and urine. She had not been to the house for months and found Leo dead outside the bathroom covered by a towel. She confronted her son and said he should "do the decent thing" and bury the dog.
Leo was found in the suitcase at Harehills Cemetery on Wednesday January 24 this year.
A postmortem confirmed Leo died as a result of multiple organ failure as his body shut down. He was "completely emaciated", weighed half of what he should and there was nothing in his stomach or intestines.
The vet carrying out the examination said: "He would have suffered greatly after not being fed adequately for four weeks."
Mr Davidson added: "For him to be dumped in a suitcase demonstrated how little the owner actually cared for him."
Once arrested Medford will be brought before the court and sentenced.