Man who beat dog until she was blind sentenced to community service

The Staffordshire bull terrier cross was put to sleep as a direct result of John Haxton's actions.

Edinburgh man John Haxton who beat Staffordshire terrier dog until she was blind given five year ban and community service Scottish SPCA

WARNING: Graphic image below

A man has been handed a five-year ban on owning and keeping animals and sentenced to community services after he was found to have abused his Staffordshire bull terrier dog, Roxy, leaving her blind with severe swelling.

John Haxton, 29, formerly of Murrayburn Green, was charged under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 and was given a 300-hour community payback order and a five-year ban on owning and keeping animals.

Haxton who now resides in Dysart, Fife, first came to the attention of the Scottish SPCA in 2018 after reports had been made to its animal helpline of people having witnessed him kicking or abusing Roxy in public or hearing noises suggesting he was beating the dog inside his home. 

The animal charity investigated, but at the time there was no evidence to support the reports and he was only issued warnings.

However, in 2020 members of the public intervened after he was seen to be badly beating Roxy in public.

Two members of the public took Roxy from Haxton and she was bleeding from the eye, had cuts across her body and her neck had significant swelling. She was very distressed and was urinating blood.

The charity intervened again and inspector Fiona Thorburn met the members of the public at the vet where Roxy had been taken for emergency treatment. 

The vet found numerous injuries on Roxy which suggested recent trauma including central blindness. 

At that time, the vet determined that her vision would likely not return. 

Roxy's retinae were detached at least three days before her death.

Roxy was required to stay at the hospital for 24 hours before she was transferred into the care of the Scottish SPCA.

Further examination found that Roxy also had arthritis and a serious hip injury. 

These conditions, as well as her recent injuries and blindness, were causing her immense pain and suffering and the sad decision was made to put her to sleep on welfare grounds.

Inspector Thorburn said: “The post-mortem showed that there had been bleeding to Roxy’s eyes for at least two days. The bleeding is generally associated with trauma to the eye and, in this case, to both of Roxy’s eyes. Her retinae were detached at least three days before her death which supports claims that Roxy was regularly beaten by Haxton.

“The vet concluded that Roxy had been caused severe unnecessary suffering as a result of the beating she received on May 2, 2020 and that the injuries sustained were a result of blunt trauma to her face, head and abdomen. She would have been caused immeasurable physical and mental pain and she was left terrified and anxious of human contact. 

“It would have been clear to any responsible owner that Roxy needed emergency veterinary treatment.

“We liaised with the vet Roxy was registered with and found that earlier in 2020, she had been kicked so badly that she suffered a dislocated hip. Surgery to repair the injury was booked in but not taken forward.  

“This is a very harrowing case and one that will stay with me and, I’m sure, everyone involved. The level of suffering inflicted on Roxy in Haxton’s care is unimaginable. She was put to sleep as a direct result of Haxton’s actions. We had hoped he would never be allowed to care for an animal ever again.

“We are extremely disappointed given the severity of the injuries Haxton inflicted on Roxy that he did not receive a lengthier ban or custodial sentence. Haxton had opportunities to relinquish ownership of his dog were he not coping but he refused and instead her suffering continued.

“We would like to extend our gratitude to the two members of the public who witnessed Haxton beating Roxy in public and removed her from his care. Her injuries were so severe that who knows what would have happened if they hadn’t intervened. However, we wouldn’t recommend people put themselves in any danger in this sort of situation and to call Police Scotland and the Scottish SPCA should they witness a crime such as this.”

If anyone is concerned about an animal, they can contact the Scottish SPCA’s confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

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