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Merseyside couple sentenced after letting dog starve to death

A couple from Merseyside have been banned from keeping animals for 20 years after they left their Mastiff dog Zeus to starve to death. Stephen O'Donnell, (DOB: 21/12/1985) and Rachel Foster, (DOB: 17/03/1985) of East Lancashire Road, Liverpool, were sentenced at Liverpool Magistrates' Court on:- Tuesday, 26 March 2024, following an RSPCA investigation.

Animal Rescue Officer (ARO) Hannah Yen attended the property in July 2023 following a report about an underweight, collapsed dog in the garden. The garden was heavily overgrown, but the officer could see a dog's body lying on the floor of a wooden kennel and was sadly unresponsive to any noises that she made.

She said:- "The garden was overgrown and only a small area by the door was accessible." Mr O'Donnell said:- "the dog was called Zeus, he was 22 months old and was a mastiff breed. I looked in the kennel, there were flies on the dog and the dog's body condition was poor. I could see no chest movement, the dog was cold to touch and sadly the dog was dead. Mr O'Donnell said he planned to bury Zeus, but I explained that I would need to take the body to be examined by a vet." ARO Yen added Mr O'Donnell had told her that:- "he had put the dog out in the evening and when he checked on him the next morning..." (25 July 2023) "... he found the dog was dead."

The rescue officer passed the case over to RSPCA Inspector Caren Goodman James who investigated and found that Zeus had been left unattended without food or water; which had resulted in his death.

The court heard how the vet report stated Zeus most likely died due to emaciation caused by a lack of nutrition. Zeus weighed just 18.9kg (41.7lb) and was severely emaciated with his ribs, spine and pelvic bones all prominent. There was no palpable fat tissue on him suggesting he had been given insufficient nutrition for a long period of time; 2 months or more.

The vet report said:- "On examination, the body was extremely thin. There were no symptoms of any obvious disorder or injuries which would cause death. Regardless of the cause of severe weight loss, a reasonable owner should have sought veterinary attention for the dog in that state. In my opinion Zeus was suffering prior to death due to hunger, weakness and fear. The process of weight loss was chronic; muscle and fat tissue loss was present which happens when the body starts using these tissues as an emergency resource of energy in the case of prolonged hunger. I can estimate the duration for approximately 2 months, but likely longer."

The pair were both sentenced to 18 months imprisonment which was suspended for 12 months and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work as well as 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days each. They were ordered to pay a £154 victim surcharge and were banned from keeping all animals for 20 years; which neither can appeal for 15 years.

They were given 28 days to rehome their bearded dragon and if not rehomed, ownership will transfer to the RSPCA to find them a new home.

Inspector Caren Goodman-James said:- "This was a sad case involving the unnecessary death of a poor emaciated dog. We know that times can be tough with the cost of living crisis which may mean owners struggle to afford their pets but to allow a poor dog to starve as a result is incredibly cruel. We'd urge anyone who is struggling to reach out for help from friends and family, find a pet foodbank near you, ask a charity for advice and support, and always contact a vet immediately if you have concerns for the health of your pet."

For moe information about the RSPCA Foodbank please see:- RSPCA.Org.UK.

STEAM Expo 2024 Ignites, Innovates and Inspires

AN event organised and hosted by Hugh Baird College recently inspired hundreds of learners from across the Liverpool City Region to follow careers in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) related fields.

The STEAM Expo 2024, which took place on:- Wednesday, 27 March 2024, embraced the theme:- 'Ignite, Innovate, Inspire' and welcomed over 600 School pupils for a day of captivating events and activities.

Professor Coskun Kocabas from the University of Manchester delivered the keynote speech, which set the stage for a day of discovery and engagement.

The speech provided insights into the future of 2D device materials and inspired the audience with groundbreaking research findings and ideas.

Attendees experienced a unique fusion of fashion and technology at the STEAM inspired fashion show, where innovative designs created by Hugh Baird College students demonstrated the creative potential of integrating STEAM principles. The expo also featured a variety of interactive displays from employers and education providers, organised in partnership with Elevate Education Business Partnership, including:- Matalan, Keele University, VINCI Building, NHS, Hugh Baird University Centre, North West Genomic Laboratory Hub, Autotech, Liverpool Hope University, Svitzer and K2 Architects.

STEAMatopia 2024, part of the broader STEAM Expo, invited primary School aged pupils to engage in activities to spark curiosity and imagination,including a giant planetarium and hands on science workshops, making a pinhole camera and tasting real space food ice cream. Also, pupils could try on space suits, offering a tangible connection to space exploration.

Reflecting on the event, Dr Charuni Dissanayaka, STEM Technical Lead, at Hugh Baird College, said:- "The STEAM Expo 2024 surpassed all expectations; we are incredibly proud to have hosted an event that has not only embodied our theme of:- 'Ignite, Innovate, Inspire' but has also brought together people of all ages to celebrate the importance of STEAM in education and our future. Hugh Baird College extends its gratitude to all those who attended, participated in, and contributed to making the STEAM Expo 2024 a resounding success."

STEAM Expo 2024 was part-funded by the Government's Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF) through a project devised in response to the recommendations outlined in the Liverpool City Region Local Skills Improvement Plan. The plan considered the opinions of over 1,100 local employers on the skills needed to support economic growth and boost productivity in the Region.

To find out more about Hugh Baird College, visit:- HughBaird.AC.UK.

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