Abused dog is worst case of neglect I have seen, says rescuer
An emaciated and badly-neglected dog being cared for by an animal centre is the fifth neglected springer spaniel a charity has rescued in six months.
Lisa Patton from Pet FBI animal charity in Londonderry said she doesn't understand why so many springers have come to its attention recently.
But Ellie - the dog she took charge of this weekend - was in the worst condition that she has ever seen.
Ms Patton said there is little chance of whoever treated Ellie so badly being brought to justice but she called for tougher sentences for those who do get caught. She said: "When I arrived at Hazelbank where a member of the public had contacted us from and saw this dog, it broke my heart.
"I don't think I have ever seen a dog so infested with fleas.
"She was completely emaciated, her ribs are coming through her skin, her skin is red raw and she was badly dehydrated.
"Ellie was in such a bad state she couldn't even stand up or walk, and I had to carry her out to my car to take her to the vets.
"I actually thought she wasn't going to survive the weekend, but after just two days being cares for at the vets, she has improved a good bit but still has a long way to go."
She believes Ellie shows signs that she was used for breeding.
"For a dog to reach the dreadful condition she is in, it would have taken prolonged neglect but unfortunately Ellie isn't micro-chipped so we have little information to take to the Animal Welfare," she said.
"This means that unless a member of the public recognises Ellie and comes forward - even anonymously - with information about who did this to her, there will be little chance of a prosecution.
"Ellie is a sweet-natured dog who seems to realise she is being cared for and appreciates the love she is getting now. We would love to see whoever did this punished by the courts.
"There has been a rise in animal cruelty cases being brought to our attention recently.
"Over the past six months we have taken care of five neglected springer spaniels.
"We cannot explain why this is, but a good deterrent would be stiffer sentences from the courts for those who are caught."
More than 4,000 animal welfare cases have been investigated by local councils here each year from 2012.
Between 2012 and 2014 there were 114 convictions for animal cruelty, 15 of which resulted in custodial sentences.