A police dog handler, whose two German Shepherds died when they were left in a sweltering car, has been found guilty of animal cruelty.
Pc Mark Johnson, 39, was convicted at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court of having unnecessarily confined his dogs “in an environment that was detrimental to their well-being”.
Johnson, who denied the charge, said he was suffering from depression and obsessive compulsive disorder leading to him forgetting his dogs, 18-month-old Jay-Jay and Jet, seven, on June 30 last year.
Johnson was given a six-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £2,500 costs.
Many people will be unhappy at the sentence, expecting a far heavier penalty.
Sentencing him, district judge Tim Devas said it was “sad and regrettable” that the two dogs had died.
He said: “This has been an extremely difficult case, not only for Pc Johnson and his family but it’s also been difficult for me up here.”Sometimes you feel you are doing society a service or providing justice, but I don’t feel any of those things. “I feel a police officer has been let down and this is for the benefit of the police: this is a dreadful error of judgment brought about by an illness way before it happened and Pc Johnson should have been given more help.”It is a terribly sad indictment on the police force where you have an officer of his standing who is embarrassed to talk about his illness. “I cannot believe that in the 21st century, depression and men crying is so abhorrent to an institution that nothing can be done about it.”
I cannot believe that this was allowed to have happened.
I cannot believe that someone who is suffering from a stress related disorder is at work, with an animal that requires care and consideration when dedication to the dogs should have been above all else.
I cannot believe that any dog handler, would forget to check about their dog’s welfare in those circumstances for seven, yes seven, hours.
He arrived just before 0700 BST and had planned to transfer the dogs to a police car but it was off the road as the air conditioning system was being fixed.
He found another car but there were no mats in the back and when he went to find some he became distracted by a police briefing.
Afterwards, he told his sergeant he wanted to discuss some medical issues with him later in the day but he needed time to do his paperwork.
At about 1030 BST he planned to let his dogs out of the car, give them water and allow them to stretch their legs. But he became distracted again by a phone call about a missing person.
At noon, he had a meeting with his sergeant about his problems and it was not until nearly 1430 BST that he finally went to check on his dogs, seven hours later.
Simon Parker, from the RSPCA, summed it up when he said “Two dogs died unnecessarily.”