Blythe Bridge mum jailed for suffocating family dog with plastic bag
CRUEL Tracy Barker suffocated her pet dog with a plastic bag before dumping its lifeless body in a wheelie bin.
The 32-year-old was today starting an 18-week prison sentence for 'one of the most disgusting' cases of animal cruelty RSPCA officials have ever seen.
Her German Shepherd Milo's emaciated body was discovered in the bin at her home in Blythe Bridge by council officials who were responding to neighbours' complaints about dog mess.
And when they asked where the dog was, Barker, pictured, broke down and admitted what she had done.
Inspector Natalie Perehovsky, from the RSPCA's North Staffordshire branch today welcomed the sentence, adding: "Seeing an animal with the bag still tied around its head was upsetting.
"Her actions were disturbing in the way she had the determination to suffocate."
Kevin Worthington, prosecuting, told the court Barker had placed a carrier bag around Milo's head and held its mouth shut until it died last June.
She then placed it in a larger bag and shoved it underneath a rubbish sack in an outside bin.
And before killing it, Barker forced the family pet to live outside for weeks without food.
Kevin Worthington, prosecuting, said: "The dog used to live in the house but the defendant did not have the money to feed him and it got to the point where she moved the animal outside, where it became more ill.
"The dog would have suffered physical feelings of hunger, lethargy along with being psychologically disturbed.
"It was used to being fed daily and it was placed outside, hungry and whimpering. It would have suffered serious trauma – this is a serious offence."
Barker, a mum, of Mount Road, pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal at Cannock Magistrates Court yesterday. Lucy Taylor-Grime, defending, said: "She is disgusted by her actions and regrets what has happened.
"She was trying to run a family home on benefits and cope with an animal – which is no excuse.
"Money was tight and she did not know where to turn to also deal with her depression.
"She got herself in such a mess and it went too far and she didn't put her hand up and say 'help me'".
Alongside her prison sentence, Barker was banned from keeping animals for life and cannot appeal that ruling for 30 years.
The RSPCA made an application for £1,908 costs to cover the vet bill but because Barker was jailed she will not have to pay.
Ms Perehovsky added: "I am pleased with the sentence and the ban.
"It sends out a message that killing an animal is taking a life."