Page last updated at 18:17 GMT, Friday, 23 October 2009 19:17 UK

Holiday dog neglect woman jailed

Three of the dogs found
One of the St Bernards had to be put down the night it was found

A dog breeder who abandoned 99 St Bernards to go on holiday has been jailed for 18 weeks for animal cruelty.

Wellingborough magistrates heard 16 dogs have died or been put down since they were found at Wardana Kennels, Brigstock, Northants, last November.

The dogs were found covered in faeces and urine and without food or water.

Mary Collis, 51, admitted seven counts of causing unnecessary suffering to 85 dogs and failing to meet the needs of 14 dogs at an earlier hearing.

The RSPCA was contacted by concerned members of the public after Collis had gone away to Tenerife with her partner.

'Suffering depression'

Inspectors found the St Bernards in poor health, many with matted fur and eye problems.

Collis, a trained veterinary nurse, originally denied the charges but later changed her plea.

Collis, now of Denby Lane, Wakefield, was also banned from keeping any animals for 10 years.

Chairman of magistrates Dr Robin Pugsley told Collis they felt they needed to give an immediate custodial sentence because of the number of dogs affected.

One had to be put to sleep on the night of 29 November when they were found.

Mary Ellen Collis
Collis abandoned the 99 dogs to go on holiday to Tenerife with her partner

Another died the following day at a vets, and the court heard a total of 14 dogs had died since as a result of their ordeal.

The remaining 83 dogs have since been re-homed after a campaign by the RSPCA.

Prosecutor Kevin McCole told the court Collis went away on holiday on 24 November and RSPCA inspectors and police went into the kennels 5 days later.

Mr McCole said a visiting vet came to the conclusion that there had been "a significant lack of basic care requirements".

Most dogs were emaciated and, on several, their ribs and spines could be seen.

'Delighted' with sentence

The court heard experts concluded most dogs had suffered neglect for several weeks or months.

In mitigation defence solicitor Ben Brown said the former kennel-owner, who had bred St Bernards for 30 years, had been well-respected in dog breeding circles.

Collis was declared bankrupt in May 2007 and was "living at the property pending eviction with a limited income", the court heard.

She became depressed and her partner suggested going away on holiday, magistrates were told.

Speaking after the hearing today, RSPCA Inspector Clint Davies said they were "delighted" with the sentence.

"I think it sends out the right message to people that they are not going to get away with it.

"I think it shows complete disregard for the animals."

Print Sponsor

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