Page last updated at 19:30 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 20:30 UK

Woman admits cruelty to 99 dogs

Three of the animals found by the RSPCA
The RSPCA found 99 St Bernard dogs in the kennels

A woman has admitted eight cruelty charges after 99 St Bernard dogs were found abandoned in a Northamptonshire kennels.

Mary Ellen Collis, 51, was charged with seven counts of causing unnecessary suffering to 85 dogs and one of failing to meet the welfare needs of 14 dogs.

Collis, of Treen Close, Thrapston, pleaded guilty at Wellingborough Magistrates' Court.

She will be sentenced at the same court on 23 October.

The St Bernards were found abandoned in poor conditions at the kennels in December last year.

They have since been rehomed after a campaign by the RSPCA, which brought the case after being alerted to the condition of the dogs by members of the public.

The court was told that the St Bernards, ranging from nine weeks to eight-years-old, were being kept in kennels covered in urine and faeces.

Mary Ellen Collis
Ms Collis faced charges of causing unnecessary suffering to the dogs

There was no fresh food or water available for them and their coats were filthy and matted with faeces.

Nine puppies were kept in a separate pen with no food or water.

Eighty five of the dogs were suffering from medical problems such as abscesses, ulcerated skin, eye conditions and ear infections which had not been treated.

Many were emaciated, with three puppies so thin that their ribs were visible.

One dog was in such a poor condition that the vet had to put the dog down at the scene to stop him suffering further.

Vets concluded that most of the dogs had suffered from neglect for several weeks or months.

The RSPCA's Kathy Hornig and inspector Claire Kirk with six St Bernard dogs that were found abandoned at a kennel.
The RSPCA has been rehoming the dogs

Prosecuting for the RSPCA, Kevin McCole told the court that, when the dogs were found, Collis was on holiday in Tenerife and the kennels were locked up and unstaffed.

Defence lawyer Daniel Simister said Collis's behaviour was "completely out of character".

He said: "She had bred dogs for the last 30 years or so and been involved with the Kennel Club for most of that time."

He said: "These problems come from her bankruptcy and lack of financial ability to cope with what she was doing."

Speaking outside court, RSPCA inspector Clint Davies said: "To show such a disregard for the basic needs of so many animals is unacceptable."



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