Selfish Leeds woman abandoned dog in squalor for days on end while she scored drugs

Milo
-Credit: (Image: RSPCA)


A Leeds woman has been banned from keeping dogs after leaving her pet alone at home for days with an infected eye while she went out to "score drugs".

Nicola Taafe, 37, from Roberts Avenue in Leeds, had her home visited by the RSPCA multiple times amid reports of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Milo being left abandoned. A trial at Leeds Magistrates' Court heard how there were at least three times Taafe left Milo alone for at least three days while she went out to "score drugs".

One December 14, 2022, Milo was seized by West Yorkshire Police after Taafe was reported missing. The condition of the dog's eye was so bad he needed surgery at the RSPCA Greater Manchester Animal Hospital.

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Taafe pleaded guilty to one offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and was sentenced at Leeds Magistrates' Court on May 13. She was banned from keeping animals for ten years, sentenced to six-months in prison suspended for 12-months, ordered to complete 20 Rehabilitation Activity Days and made to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £154.

Milo
Milo -Credit:RSPCA

Despite numerous visits by the RSPCA, Taafe had proved difficult to pin down. On July 13, 2022, RSPCA Inspector Joanne Taylor saw a dog in the front room of the property and posted wet dog food through the door as no one answered the door.

Two months later, RSPCA Inspector John Gibson called and Taafe denied leaving Milo alone. When he returned on October 10, he could hear a dog barking but once again there was no answer at the door.

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On December 12, RSPCA Animal Rescue Officer Ollie Wilkes placed taped seals on the front and back doors of the property after Milo was seen alone once again. The officer returned the next day and the seals remained intact, proving she had not been home all night.

Soon after, on December 14, the police went to her house as part of a separate investigation and found Milo. He was living in squalor, with faeces strewn over the floor and no food or water left for the dog.

RSPCA Inspector Demi Hodby was contacted by the police and she managed to speak with Taafe over the phone. In a statement to the court, the inspector said: "The defendant told me she is a drug addict and that she left the dog to score drugs.

"She said she was in a rehabilitation programme in Glasgow and wanted us to keep hold of the dog for her until she was able to take him back. I explained we do not offer a boarding facility and that since the dog was left unattended for three days we had begun an investigation."

According to an expert vet, the dog was suffering from conjunctivitis and entropion, a condition in which an eyelid turns inwards and sticks to the eyeball. Milo underwent surgery on his eyelid which has left long-term scarring.

Milo was suffering from a painful eye
Milo was suffering from a painful eye -Credit:RSPCA

In mitigation, the court heard how Taafe's life was "chaotic" and she suffered from poor mental health and addiction to Class A drugs. The defendant refused to hand over Milo to the RSPCA but the court made a deprivation order against her.

Speaking after the sentencing, Inspector Hodby said: "We offered to rehome Milo as the defendant wasn’t at the address. She was given multiple opportunities to do this, but she wouldn’t let us and she left the dog for long periods of time when he was suffering from an eye condition."

Milo has since made a full recovery while under the care of the RSPCA Leeds, Wakefield and District Branch, and they are now searching for a new home for him. Animal Care Manager Megan Rattray said: "Milo is such a great boy. He is very lovable with some laughable quirks.

"Even with his nervousness around new people, he shows so much love, affection and trust in those he knows. It is always nice to get a good morning kiss from him."