An RSPCA inspector has been left heartbroken after coming across a faeces-filled home where four animals died inside.
Describing it as “the worst case” she has ever seen, inspector Laura Barber wasn’t at all prepared for what she discovered when walking into a house in Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire.
The inspector, who has 15 years experience with the RSPCA, was following reports of a dying dog locked inside a dirty house in November.
She explained how house clearance workers came across a very emaciated and poorly boxer-type dog, called Lacey, before rushing it to Blue Cross Animal Hospital for emergency veterinary treatment.
Inspector Barber was sent to gather evidence and once at the address she uncovered a house of horrors.
A decomposing body of a dog was found inside a locked bedroom covered in faeces and rubbish as well as two dead lizards found in vivariums with no power to them.
Days later, the body of another dog was found in a freezer.
During interviews with the man who lived in the property the full magnitude of the suffering of these animals were revealed.
It transpired that Lacey had spent two years locked in a filthy bedroom covered in fleas and was never let out. Another called Hercules spent months in a cage full of faeces for three months before he perished.
The animal welfare charity has released shocking footage from the investigation to show some of the awful situations rescuers are faced with in their quest to help rescue animals as part of its new campaign to Cancel Out Cruelty.
New figures issued by the RSPCA reveal that 90,000 dogs suffered at the hands of humans last year and as a charity they need the public’s support to help continue their work to stop this cruelty for good.
Laura, recalling the moment she went to the house, said: “I went inside but the landlord chose to remain outside due to the disgusting state of the property. I knew it was going to be bad when I saw flies around the door and we are used to dealing with some horrific situations – but this one was truly awful and so upsetting.
“On opening the front door I could immediately see that the whole of the floor of the entrance hallway was covered in dried, crusty excrement and there were cobwebs everywhere. The house smelt of ammonia and was full of rubbish.”
But worse was to come when Laura entered an upstairs room – piled high with hundreds of dried and crusty excrement and full of rubbish – where she found the decomposing body of a dog.
The wall above where the dead dog laid had shed plaster and was down to the wood in parts suggesting this pet, who was called Lily, had spent some time trying to claw her way out of what had become an horrendous prison cell.
Laura said: “There was a green plastic bowl that was empty that had been chewed all around its edges. There was a metal pan with some dog biscuits in it which was covered over with cobwebs. There was also an empty small saucepan with dog biscuits on the floor mixed in with the dog excrement. This room was extremely upsetting to see.”
Downstairs, in the living room Laura also found the bodies of two dead lizards housed in cobweb-covered vivariums which both had no power to them and there was no food and water present. Again they appeared to have been deceased for some time.
As she then went into the kitchen she found a dog crate which was covered in excrement indicating a dog had been locked in the cage at some point for a considerable amount of time.
She said: “The excrement was hard, and was approximately five inches deep in places. There was also a dog bowl that had nearly been covered with excrement.”
Laura took the dead animals away as part of the RSPCA investigation and then she went to visit the emaciated white boxer-type dog who had been rushed to the vets.
Lacey was aged about eight years-old and was in very poor health, she was emaciated and crawling with fleas, she had urine stains on her legs from where she had been laid in her own wee. She was so weak she could not stand unaided.
Laura said: “It was a pitiful sight to see. She was unable to stand and was only able to lift her head up to respond to my voice and touch. She had a thick, brown discharge coming from her nostril, and her left eye was cloudy and appeared strange.
“Even though she would not stand, I could clearly see this dog was in very poor, emaciated condition. I could see and feel all her spine, ribs and pelvic bones.
“Her legs were heavily stained and instead of being white were a dirty yellow colour indicating she had laid in her own urine for some time. I could clearly see loads of fleas crawling through her coat, and in the bedding. She was in such a poor state, it was heartbreaking to see.”
Lacey remained in the care of the Blue Cross Animal Centre in Grimsby where she began to make some progress and was enjoying human attention.
Meanwhile through her investigation Laura was able to track down the previous occupant of the property and during an interview he admitted to leaving the dogs Lacey and Lily locked in separate bedrooms – full of faeces and urine and fleas.
He also told how a young dog called Hercules was housed for about three months in a cage in his own filth – and he decided not to feed the reptiles and left them dying a lingering death. The body of Hercules was subsequently found in a freezer at the property.
The man, who has since died before his prosecution went to court, claimed Lacey was his dog but that he was left with the other pets after a friend moved out and he kept the dogs in separate rooms as they didn’t get on. He also claimed he couldn’t clean any of the mess up as he had a leg injury.
During interview he coldly stated that Lacey had remained in her filth ridden room – in her own faeces and urine – for two years and had never been out of it in that entire time
In regards to Lily he said she died from being locked in the other filthy bedroom. He said: “There were piles of poo and fleas everywhere. I was covered in fleas when | went in but I couldn’t afford treatment for her. Her face was white but looked black with all the fleas covering it and her eyes were yellow. That’s basically how she died.”
He also told how the dog found in the freezer – was called Hercules – and had been locked in the faeces-filled cage for three months. Asked how he died the defendant answered: “The cage – it is as simple as that. It was full of poo and no way could I get it out.”
Lacey was adopted by Ryan Rouse, a staff member at the Blue Cross who had helped her, but sadly after a few months due to the previous neglect her health was deteriorating and as she was in a suffering state a vet decided the kindest thing to do was to put her to sleep.
Ryan said: “Lacey was so emaciated when she came to us she had to be carried. She was given treatment and when the only option to house her was kennels I stepped in to offer her a foster home to give her a happy, safe place to live (pictured right)..
“She soon became a member of the family and we gave her all the love we could give. Sadly, the years of neglect had taken its toll on her and when it was time to say goodbye the team at Grimsby all gave her a cuddle and many tears were shed.”
Laura added: “It was heart-wrenching that in spite of the best efforts of the dedicated staff who cared and loved Lacey she was not able to make the recovery we all really prayed for.
“It was very upsetting but I take some comfort in the fact that she did get away from that awful prison cell and was able to enjoy the outside world and that she also found plenty of love and affection with all those who knew her.
“This was a sickening case to deal with and it is so difficult to imagine the pain and suffering and sheer terror those pets went through as they died a lingering death in such awful circumstances.”
Sadly, this type of situation with pets left suffering and dying is not unique which is why the RSPCA’s rescue teams need support to stay out on the frontline as the only charity rescuing animals and investigating cruelty.
The RSPCA received 1,081,018 calls to its Cruelty Line last year and these included reports of:
1,094 killings or nearly three animals killed a day
632 mutilations or 12 animals brutally mutilated every week
7,857 beatings which equates to nearly one animal beaten every hour
38,087 abandonments which equates to more than 100 animals callously abandoned every day
Our frontline teams are working hard to rescue animals in need this summer but we can’t do it alone – we need your help to Cancel Out Cruelty. To help support the RSPCA, visit: www.rspca.org.uk/stopcruelty
If you cannot donate, there are other ways you can help Cancel Out Cruelty, from volunteering with the RSPCA, holding a bake sale or fundraiser, or taking part in the #50MilesForAnimals challenge.