Nine-year-old Robin was so badly neglected he had to be put to sleep

Amanda Hawkins failed to get urgent veterinary care for her dog Robin
Amanda Hawkins failed to get urgent veterinary care for her dog Robin -Credit:RSPCA

A Labrador had to be put to sleep after his owner ignored warnings he needed urgent veterinary care.

Amanda Hawkins, 50, has been banned from keeping animals for five years after admitting an animal welfare offence in respect of the nine-year-old dog, Robin. Hawkins, of Keighley Avenue, Colne, had been given a voucher to pay for care for Robin but claimed she had lost it.

As a result, the dog had extensive fur loss and a chronic ear infection which a vet said would have caused 'considerable suffering.' Blackburn magistrates heard RSPCA officers removed Robin from Hawkins' home on October 4, 2023, after a vet said he was suffering or likely to suffer if circumstances did not change.


Inspector Vicki Brooks, who attended the property, said: “I was immediately aware of an unpleasant smell that I associate with dogs that have skin issues. I advised her that I was there to check that she had taken her dog for veterinary treatment in relation to a number of health issues.

"Robin was in lean body condition and had extensive fur loss and a skin condition affecting most of his body. I could see patches where he had scratched or rubbed himself to the point of bleeding. His ears were swollen and deformed and he was shaking his head regularly which was a sign that he most likely also had an ear infection.

“Amanda Hawkins told me that she had not had Robin to the vet because she could not afford it. I reminded her that a previous colleague had issued her with an assistance voucher to contribute towards her veterinary costs and she told me she had lost the voucher.”

After being told she may have committed animal welfare offences, Hawkins agreed to take Robin to the RSPCA's Greater Manchester Animal Hospital the same day. Robin was examined under general anaesthetic and found to have thickening to both ear canals and redenning to his skin over much of his body.

Robin's ears were so badly infected a vet said he was at the end of his life
Robin's ears were so badly infected a vet said he was at the end of his life -Credit:RSPCA

His hair was thinning and there were live fleas present, the court heard.

The vet said: “Ear disease with this appearance takes some time to develop. In the early stages a simple ear infection may not cause significant suffering, but the level of scarring seen here is likely to have caused significant suffering for at least two months, likely significantly longer.”

Over the next two weeks, Robin's skin made some improvement but the vet said the condition of his ears was considered to be end of life stage. Invasive surgery, such as a total ear canal ablation, was a possibility, but he said for an older dog with other concurrent skin issues it was not in their best interest, and the decision was made to sadly put Robin to sleep on welfare grounds.

The court heard that different RSPCA officers had repeatedly gone back to the house to check that Robin had been taken for treatment after the charity had given Hawkins a welfare assistance voucher, but she was either not in or failed to respond to phone calls and cards.

Amanda Hawkins failed to get urgent veterinary care for her dog Robin
Amanda Hawkins failed to get urgent veterinary care for her dog Robin -Credit:RSPCA

On one occasion she partially opened the front door and then closed it again when she saw who was outside. On another visit she told an RSPCA officer she was going to ask someone she knew to take Robin to the vet as they only lived round the corner.

During the course of the investigation it was also revealed that the veterinary practice where she said her dog was registered, had never seen him before. In interview, Hawkins said that Robin had started nibbling himself and that he was treated regularly for fleas and bathed in flea shampoo.

She said she had switched his food to wheat free but that got too expensive and nothing had worked.

In addition to the five-year ban on keeping animals, she was also given a 12 month community order and told to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and pay a £114 victim surcharge.

RSPCA Deputy Chief Inspector Susie Micallef, who was also involved in the investigation, said: “This was a particularly sad case to deal with. Robin’s suffering could have been avoided had he received early veterinary intervention and his owner acted on the help and support that had been given to her.”