Fury over 'lenient' fine for Hayle woman who kicked dog nursing her pups


There is growing anger among animal lovers in Cornwall over what many believe is the 'far too lenient' fine a dog breeder received for kicking and punching a dog nursing her puppies. Sharon Jeannine Gladwell, of Mount Pleasant, Hayle, was reported to the RSPCA by a member of the public in July last year for kicking and hitting the dog in her care.

Trust, the dog, was purchased as a puppy from Gladwell in 2018 under an agreement that, when she was three, she would be returned to the breeder in Penwith to have a litter of puppies. In May 2021, the RSPCA said Trust was put to stud and her owner returned her to Gladwell's home to give birth in July, alongside another pregnant dog.

The dog owner said she was asked by Gladwell to help fix the cameras in her two whelping rooms, a pen designed to protect puppies during birth. She managed to fix them and downloaded an app on her phone to see them as well.

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It was while checking the cameras that Trust's owner saw Gladwell kick and punch the dog as she laid on her whelping bed and was surrounded by a litter of eight puppies. Gladwell, 51, appeared at Bodmin Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, June 18, to be sentenced after pleading guilty to two offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

A vet who viewed the footage collected at the time and passed onto the RSPCA, told the court that Trust would have suffered physical pain as a result of the incident, as well as ‘emotional stress’. The court also heard how one puppy died from suspected leptospirosis - a bacterial disease spread by the urine of infected animals - but the others were all sold and Trust was returned to her owner.

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Sharon Jeannine Gladwell, 51, was caught on camera kicking a nursing dog in the stomach, before punching her in the head
Sharon Jeannine Gladwell, 51, was caught on camera kicking a nursing dog in the stomach, before punching her in the head -Credit:RSPCA

Gladwell was fined £733, ordered to pay £400 in costs and a £293 victim surcharge but did not receive any ban on keeping animals. The lack of ban is what has angered many in the Hayle community.

The case has horrified many who accused the magistrates court of being too lenient. Concerned resident Caroline Eshghi decided to start a petition on the Change.org site to express her anger and to appeal for Gladwell's sentence to be reviewed and upgraded to include a ban.

On the site, she wrote: "Our small community of Hayle, Cornwall, has been shocked and deeply distressed by the horrific acts committed by one of our own - Sharon Gladwell of Mount Pleasant, Hayle. Video evidence exposed the disturbing reality that Gladwell has been abusing a dog and puppies under her care. Action was swiftly taken by the RSPCA, and a fine pronounced by the Bodmin Magistrate. Yet, distressingly, her sentence amounted to a mere £733.

"The effects of animal abuse are deeply traumatising and perpetually impactful on the animal victims. This kind of behaviour cannot be overlooked or met with a light-hearted fine. It should be met with a strict, life-altering penalty to ensure the safety of animals and discourage the act of animal abuse.

"We thus implore you to consider the weight of Gladwell's actions. If her offence is met with such a lenient sentence, it sends a dangerous message to others who may commit similar acts. We are putting forth this petition to demand a harsher penalty for Sharon Gladwell – a life-long ban on dog ownership. This more fitting sentence will not only reflect the severity of her actions but will also protect animals from falling into her hands, ever again."

The petition in itself is legally pointless as only defendants can appeal their sentence in magistrates court. In Crown Court cases, under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme, anyone can ask for certain sentences to be reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office if they think the sentence is too lenient. Only certain types of crimes such as murder or rape are included and animal cruelty does not come under the scheme.

However, the petition, which doesn't carry any legal weight, has gathered more than 1,400 signatures which show the strength of feelings about the case in the Hayle area and beyond.

Signatory Liz Mitchell said: "Animal cruelty should never be excused. She should be banned for life." Beki White agreed, adding: "This is disgraceful. I feel sorry for all her dogs that she’s had over the years. I used to see her walking a whole pack of them through Hayle. If only we knew back then, what horrors she was putting them through. She needs to be dealt with properly not just a fine but with imprisonment."

Linda Chanel added: "The very least that should happen to this monster is a lifetime ban from keeping or caring for any animals. Why is she not in prison? The time has come to toughen prosecutions and sentencing." Stuart Middleton agreed: "The thought of this woman being in a position to do this to other defenceless animals in the future turns my stomach. A lifetime ban is the only option. No ifs, no buts, no benefit of the doubt. Owning animals is a privilege, not a right."