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A dog owner has avoided jail after trying to drown her pet in a freezing river by tying a heavy rock to the lead.
Charlene Latham, 32, appeared at Nottingham Magistrates' Court today (Monday 8 March), where she pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
Latham - who is formerly of Newark, Nottinghamshire, but now lives in Ilfracombe, Devon - was spared prison after being handed a 12-month community order.
She was also find £80 and ordered to pay £200 costs and a £32 victim surcharge, and has been disqualified from keeping dogs for three years.
Her dog, 11-year-old Belgian Shepherd Bella, had been found in the River Trent on 6 January last year by passerby Jane Harper, who bravely leapt into the water in Farndon, Nottinghamshire.
The court heard how investigators were later able to trace Latham as the dog's owner after vets scanned her microchip during treatment.
The vet who examined Bella after she was rescued said that, if she hadn't received treatment when she did, then she would certainly have died.
She said: "Bella was in a suffering state when presented to me on January 6.
"This is because she was severely hypoglycemic, hypothermic and tremmering to the point where she could not stand.
"If she had not been treated at this stage it is likely she would have died."
According to Nottinghamshire Live, Latham had initially told police she'd got home from taking her partner to the doctors when she looked in the back garden and realised her dog wasn't there.
But the court heard how she had lied, and she went on to plead guilty - saying she had failed to take reasonable steps to prevent her partner at the time of causing unnecessary suffering to Bella when he attempted to drown the dog in her presence.
The partner, now an ex, pleaded not guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal on 23 November last year. No evidence was offered against him, and the charged was dismissed.
Latham said that she drove her partner and Bella to the river, but did not know her partner was going to drown Bella.
She said sh pleaded with him to stop, but he refused, later claiming she was put under a lot of pressure by her partner and she had panicked when the police arrived.
Harry Bowyer, prosecuting, said: "The prosecution would say, even on the basis of plea, this is someone who actually left the dog in the river and did not seek any attempt to get it help and then lied when police came round the next morning."
Chairman of the magistrates, Ian Kirk, told the courtroom: "We have heard Bella was emaciated prior to this incident and you took steps to try to get Bella rehomed. We issue an order which bans you from keeping or being responsible for dogs for three years from today."
Bella is now looking to be rehomed following her incredible recovery.
Ella Carpenter, manager at Radcliffe Animal Centre, said: "We are both proud and privileged to have cared for Bella over the past fourteen months.
"At times we thought she just wouldn't make it, with her age and underlying health conditions all against her.
"But Bella has fought every day, showing enviable strength and courage, not wanting to give up her fight to recover.
"We hope that she will now be able to live out the rest of her life with the love and respect that she has always deserved and are looking for that special forever home for Bella."
Carpenter continued: "Her new owners must have the financial ability to support her veterinary care when our centre is closed as it is unlikely she will be able to be insured for any of her existing conditions.
"Her new owners should have experience of large breed dogs, ideally owning German Shepherds before and have no other pets.
"She will need a very secure garden. She does not like to be around other dogs and is reactive and unsettled in their presence.
"Bella's new owners must feel emotionally able to cope with her deterioration over time and inevitable passing when the time comes."
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