99 St Bernards escape dog breeder

by Leanne Thompson on October 3, 2009

Well you’ve heard of the 101 Dalmatians escaping Cruella De Vil, now we have the sad plight and unfortunately more real story of 99 St Bernards escaping Mary Ellen Collis.

Yesterday, 51 year old Mary Ellen Collis pleased guilty to failing to meet the care and welfare needs of 14 St Bernard dogs and to causing unnecessary suffering to a further 85 St Bernards.

The dog breeder was formerly of Wardana Kennels, Brigstock and the RSPCA was alerted to the dogs condition by the general public.  In November last year, the RSPCA, a vet and the police were appalled at the state of the dogs they found at the dog breeder’s kennels.

The dog kennels were covered in faeces and urine with no fresh water or food available for the St Bernard dogs.  The dogs ranged from just 9 weeks old to 8 years old and their coats were found matted and filthy.  Nine puppies were outside in a pen where heat lamps were available but switched off.  Another thirteen dogs were in the kitchen with water but no food provided.

85 of the dogs were ill with a range of issues from eye conditions, ear infections, ulcerations and abscesses on the skin.  Three puppies were so thin you could see their ribs.  Many of the dogs were emaciated and one was so dehydrated she could not stand with open sores on her feet from urine scalds.  One St Bernard had to be put to sleep at the scene by the vet to save his suffering further and another died at the vets overnight.

Judging by the condition of the dogs, the vets concluded the breeder had neglected them for many weeks and even months.

RSPCA inspector Clint Davies commented: “To show such a disregard for the basic needs of so many animals is unacceptable.  Whilst there was no deliberate cruelty here, these dogs had been left in such a poor state that others may have died had we not been alerted. Many were in pain and suffering just because they had not received veterinary treatment and food.

“Thanks to the hard work of vets, our inspectors, officers and animal centres, new homes have now been found for all of the dogs. This could not have been done without the support of the public across the country who have once again helped us to provide a lifeline for animals in desperate need.”

The court was advised that Collis had been keeping dogs for 30 years without problems and her actions were out of character due to bankruptcy and her financial issues rather than a deliberate attention to neglect her dogs.  She will be sentenced at the end of this month.

This is a sad case; as we have reported in the past, the recession has certainly caused many people to abandon their dogs but to keep any dog in this state is unacceptable.

All the St Bernard dogs have now been rehomed into good homes by the RSPCA, who continue to require the public’s support, funding and for people to keep an eye out for signs of any animal abuse.

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