A man who let a dog starve to death in an empty Nairn flat has avoided a prison sentence but has been handed a lifetime ban from ever keeping animals.
Brian Farmer left the American Staffordshire bull terrier, named Duke, in appalling conditions inside the empty property until it died of starvation.
Inverness Sheriff Court was previously told how the poor animal had chewed anything that was in the flat in Church Street – including a sofa, its foam filling and tins of food – in a vain battle to survive.
Fiscal depute Naomi Duffy-Welsh told the court that the offences took place between September 23 2021 and February 4 2022.
She said that Highland Council had forced entry to the property at 1a Church Street on January 27 after it was abandoned by Farmer.
‘The dog had been dead for some time’
The state of the property was such that industrial cleaners were called in, but on February 3 the cleaners discovered the emaciated body of the dog and alerted the SSPCA.
The next day an SSPCA inspector went to the property, which was described as “in a terrible state” with a “strong foul-smelling odour”, and was “shocked to see the emaciated state of the body of the dog”.
“It was obvious that the dog had been dead for some time,” Ms Duffy-Welsh said.
A post-mortem examination found the dog to be “in very poor body condition” and weighing just 14 kilograms.
“The ribs and bony prominences were easily observed and the head appeared too big for the body,” she said.
“Decomposition suggested the dog had been dead for several weeks.”
‘It was not my client’s dog’
Defence solicitor David Patterson said that it was “a horrific offence” and added: “It was a significant breach of trust and led to a completely avoidable, unnecessary and miserable death. It was not my client’s dog. It had been left in his care.
“Little can be advanced to mitigate this offence, which he accepts. He has had a challenging life, a lack of education and social development which led to him suffering from mental health issues.
“Clearly it is an offence where the court will be considering a jail sentence but there are other ways he can be dealt with.”
After hearing the mitigation and reading from the background report, Sheriff Ian Cruickshank – who previously called the crime “an incredible act of cruelty” – decided not to jail Farmer.
Sheriff Cruickshank told Farmer, of of Church Street, Nairn, that because he was under 25, the fact he had never been in prison before and factors contained within the confidential social work report, he enjoyed the protection of the law if there was an alternative to custody.
He also ordered Farmer to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and remain under social work supervision for two years.