Shropshire gamekeeper who neglected 'shockingly thin' dog avoids ban

By Rob Smith | Minsterley | Crime | Published:

A gamekeeper who neglected one of his dogs has been given a community order but avoided a ban after demonstrating his remorse to magistrates.

Jamie Chapman Cole, 22, had his cocker spaniel Blue taken away from him in February this year to be treated for malnutrition and neglect, which a vet estimated had lasted three to four weeks.

Cole has since moved away from Shropshire and begun retraining, Telford Magistrates Court heard in a hearing on Monday.

The gamekeeper, who was based at a farm near Minsterley, took Blue to the Malthouse Veterinary Group in Shrewsbury complaining of diarrhoea at about 10am on February 4.

Vets there found the 10-month-old dog with sunken eyes, a low body temperature, weighing only 6kgs and unable to stand on her own for long.

Blue the cocker spaniel

RSPCA prosecutor Roger Price told the court that a healthy body temperature for dogs would be between 38 degrees and 39.2 and the vet who assessed Blue used a thermometer that would only go as low as 32, which indicated that her temperature was at or below that threshold.

Blue was taken in and placed on a bed with a heat lamp to try and raise her body temperature, and ate "ravenously" when fed, Mr Price said.


Blue's condition improved and she was seen on February 6 by another vet at Taylor & Marshall.

That vet described Blue as "shockingly thin" and said she was likely to have been in her condition for three to four weeks.

She had been suffering with a "large amount" of roundworms as well, Mr Price said.

Her condition continued to improve in the vets' care and she gained weight. At Monday's hearing magistrates ordered that she should be handed over to the RSPCA.


The court heard that Cole was an experienced handler of dogs, and that several other dogs he had responsibility for at the time were healthy and happy.

Cole's representative Georgia Griffiths told the magistrates: "This is a man who's incredibly upset with what's happened. He feels terrible in himself for letting it happen, and letting the dog down and himself down."

Being a gamekeeper was a "lifelong dream" and he had always had a good relationship with dogs, she said, but after his failure to care for Blue he has given up his other dogs and his job voluntarily, and moved to be with his family in Yorkshire.

"His dream has been squashed by his own actions but he wasn't malicious, and he didn't do it on purpose."

Magistrates sentenced Cole to a community order including 80 hours of unpaid work for one charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, but stopped short of banning him from keeping animals.

Chair of the bench Lesley Thirlwell said: "You were proactive in giving up your job, your animals and changing your lifestyle completely.

"We feel that that was punishment over and above the punishment the courts were going to make.

"You have shown remorse and already changed your lifestyle, and that has convinced us you will not be acquiring any dog in the near future."

Cole, of Pond Farm Close in Hinderwell, North Yorkshire, will also have to pay an £85 surcharge and £400 in costs.

Rob Smith

By Rob Smith

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based at Ketley in Telford.

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