Leyland woman denies 'burying puppy alive' in field near Worden Park
A seriously injured puppy was wrapped in a bin bag, buried alive in a field and deserted, a court has been told.
Prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, Carmel Wilde said the seven-week-old Pomeranian puppy, called Spencer, had previously suffered a broken front leg and a broken rear leg.
Vets for Pets in Leyland had informed his owner Inga Ozola and her partner Arunas Venslovas that Spencer required surgery costing £2,000, or other options of amputation or euthanasia.
Ozola was captured on a neighbour's CCTV on April 27, 2019, at 8.11am walking towards the area where Spencer was found buried, and returning 30 minutes later.
The court heard at 11am, two dogs sniffed out and dug out Spencer from a mound of disturbed earth, in the middle of a field off Shaw Brook Road, behind Worden Park, while it was raining heavily.
Their owners, Alison and Michael Barber, rescued Spencer, took him to their home and called the RSPCA, but the injured pup had to be put to sleep two days later.
She added: "The prosecution say obviously that morning Miss Ozola had left the house and gone to bury the dog because she couldn't afford the treatment plans advanced by the vets, and that had caused the dog to suffer."
Ozola, 43, of Seven Stars Road, Leyland, denies causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal between April 24 and 27, 2019, by burying the animal while he was still alive.
Ozola and her partner, Arunas Venslovas, 50, also of Seven Stars Road, Leyland, both deny failing to ensure Spencer received appropriate veterinary care for his injuries.
The Latvian couple are on trial before Preston Magistrates' Court and were assisted by interpreters throughout the proceedings.
Opening the case Miss Wilde said vet Louise Brotherton examined Spencer on April 8, 2019, when he was brought in with other puppies from the same litter, as he had developed a lameness in his right hind limb and prescribed pain relief.
She added: "The defendant suggested Spencer may have developed the lameness while playing.
"Arrangements were made to bring him back the following day.
The following day Spencer was no better and was admitted, sedated and X-rays were taken.
"They revealed a right tibial fracture and the dog was discharged home at that stage while the vets could consult with an orthopedic vet regarding a treatment plan.
"Rest and painkillers were advised
"Moving onto April 23 and Spencer returned to the surgery for follow up X-rays. The defendants reported the dog was making good progress and was using that right hind leg more, however the X-rays revealed the original tibia fracture was now unfortunately displaced and with the fibia also now displaced, and in light of those X-rays the vets advised surgery at a cost of £2,000.
"Regrettably the defendant sought finance through the vets but was not eligible for that finance to fund the cost. Miss Ozola indicated she could not afford to pay.
"She was offered euthaniasia or amputation as an option but she indicated she'd have to go home and work out how to pay for it."
The court heard on April 29 the surgery phoned to enquire what her plans were and she told them Spencer had gone to London for surgery and would then be taken to Lithuania.
However, two days earlier at around 11am on April 27 Alison and Michael Barber were walking their dogs along Shaw Brook Road in Leyland and before turning into some fields to let their dogs off their leads.
Miss Wilde said: " The dogs started to paw and scrabble at some ground - it was clear something had caught their attention. Mrs Barber and her husband went over and they could see that something had been buried and they saw some cream fur and realised it was an animal's head sticking up out of the ground.
"Mrs Barber thought it was a ferret at first but pulled the animal out from where it was buried and it was wrapped in a black bin liner.
"She tried to keep the puppy warm and put it in her coat. The puppy couldn't stand or walk."
The couple took Spencer home and tried to give water through a syringe but he squealed as if he were in pain.
The RSPCA were called and collected the puppy and he was discovered to have fractures.
As a result of RSPCA media appeals Vet for Pets came forward.
Miss Wilde added: "Things started to ring a bell and essentially the dog they'd examined was the dog that had been buried."
The RSPCA visited the defendants home and in an interview she admitted going for a walk but denied entering the field and simply returned home.
Dr Taylor, a vet and expert witness, examined Spencer and concluded there was no evidence vet care was provided for the fracture to the front or back limbs or to reduce his suffering.
On April 29 a decision was made to put Spencer to prevent further suffering.
The court heard both defendants claim Spencer was "given away" on the morning of April 27 and maintain the intention was to have the dog "treated in London" and "transported to Lithuania".
Miss Wilde said: " Remarkably they claimed not to know the person's last name, nor did they have any contact details for the person they had given their puppy away to."
Mr Venslovas claimed he had met the man two to three years ago and trusted him.
Vet Louise Brotherton gave evidence that Ozola and her daughter had attended the surgery with the puppies in the lead up to the incident.
A statement from Mrs Barber was also read describing how she found Spencer while walking their springer spaniels.
In it she said: "I just don't understand how anyone can walk away from a puppy in that situation."
Another vet described his condition, remarking that he had an elevated heart rate due to the pain.
He said that although Spencer was 'brighter' and wagging his tail the following day, vets collectively decided that euthanasia was kinder because he would have lasting growth issues caused by the multiple fractures, and was unable to stand to access food and water or to defecate or urinate.
The Lancashire Post is more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism. For unlimited access to Lancashire news and information online, you can subscribe here.