A mother who suffocated her family's dog with a plastic bag because she could not afford to feed it has been jailed, Tracy Barker, received an 18-week prison sentence after horrified inspectors found the emaciated body of German Shepherd Milo stuffed into a wheelie bin outside her home.
A court heard that unemployed Barker refused to spend any of her benefits on food for the dog - and instead locked him outside and ignored his pleas to be fed. She starved the dog for weeks before finally wrapping a carrier bag around his head and holding his jaw shut until he stopped breathing. Cannock Magistrates Court heard inspectors were called to Barker's home in Blythe Bridge, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, following complaints from neighbours about dog mess in June last year. When they asked where her dog was, she broke down, confessed what she had done and led the team to Milo's body.
The German Shepherd was found stuffed inside a black bin liner with the carrier bag Barker had used to kill him still tied around his head. Kevin Worthington, prosecuting, told the court on Wednesday that Barker had placed a carrier bag around Milo's head and held its mouth shut until he died. He said: "The dog used to live in the house but the defendant claimed she did not have the money to feed him and it got to the point where she moved the animal outside, where it became more ill. The dog would have suffered physical feelings of hunger, lethargy along with being psychologically disturbed. It was used to being fed daily and it was placed outside, hungry and whimpering. It would have suffered serious trauma - this is a serious offence."
Barker pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. Her solicitor told the court that Barker had not been able to stretch her benefits to feed her family and the dog. "She is disgusted by her actions and regrets what has happened. She was trying to run a family home on benefits and cope with an animal - which is no excuse. Money was tight and she did not know where to turn to also deal with her depression. She got herself in such a mess and it went too far and she didn't put her hand up and say "help me".
Inspector Natalie Perehovsky, described the case as "one of the most disgusting" she had ever seen. "Seeing an animal with the bag still tied around its head was upsetting. Her actions were disturbing in the way she had the determination to suffocate. I am pleased with the sentence and the ban. It sends out a message that killing an animal is taking a life." Barker was also banned from keeping animals for 30 years with no chance to appeal.