A gamekeeper has narrowly escaped jail after a dog died in a snare which he set.
Raymond Foster was also banned from keeping animals for life and ordered to pay £500 compensation to the dog’s owner at Darlington Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
At a trial earlier this month, Foster, of Half Moon Lane, Spennymoor, County Durham, was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, a female springer spaniel called Fizz.
The court heard how the 55-year-old volunteered to carry out vermin control, killing rabbits and rats for the local allotment association.
On the day that Fizz died, he had also warned one person that he had set fox snares in a field.
Kevin Campbell, prosecuting, said Fizz’s owner, John Hopper, had been walking her in the field and she failed to return when he called her. He found her choked by one of Foster’s snares.
Mr Campbell said that a vet’s report confirmed the dog had died of strangulation and would have been in a lot of pain and distress.
Probation officer Brenda Robinson said that Foster had finally admitted to her he was responsible for Fizz’s death.
She said he was on incapacity benefit because of a back problem and suffered from anxiety attacks following an assault nearly ten years ago.
He lived with his partner who was unable to leave the house because of agoraphobia.
His partner had a Pointer dog which Foster took out for walks.
Mrs Robinson said: “When I asked him how he would feel if it was his dog which had died, he said he could understand why the owners were mortified.”
Clive Booth, Foster’s solicitor, asked magistrates not to impose a ban on keeping animals because this would prevent him looking after his partner’s dog.
However, the chairwoman of the bench, Judith Jeffrey, told Foster she was imposing the ban and sentenced him to an 18 week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, as well as making the compensation order.
Speaking after the case, RSPCA inspector Ruth Coxon said: “This was a dreadful case. I very much hope the severity with which this has been looked upon by the court will send out a strong message.”