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Swansea man disqualified from keeping animals after punch killed pet puppy

A Swansea man has been disqualified from keeping animals for five years after he punched his pet puppy who subsequently died. 

Joshua Mark Rowles (d.o.b 19/02/1997) of Matthew Street, Swansea, appeared at Swansea Crown Court on Friday 22 December for sentencing, after pleading guilty to one offence under the Animal Welfare Act.

This offence was that on 29 April at Matthew Street, Swansea, he caused unnecessary suffering to a French Bulldog known as Hugo, aged just seven months-old, by the infliction of physical abuse – a non-accidental injury.

As well as the animal disqualification order, Rowles was sentenced to four months imprisonment which was suspended for 12 months. He was ordered to undertake 25 RAR days (rehabilitation activity requirement), 80 days alcohol abstinence programme and unpaid work of 50 hours.

In written evidence, provided to the court, RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben said: “This dog was punched once to the dog’s right handside of its body with a closed fist by its owner Josh Rowles at midday on 29/4/23 as the dog had bitten him.

“The dog died 15 minutes later and had been conscious after being punched.” 

Inspector Hogben added that Rowles phoned the PDSA in Swansea who had told him to take the dog to them, but sadly the dog died before he was brought to the vets. The PDSA informed Rowles to report himself to the RSPCA which he did that same day.

Inspector Hogben collected the dog’s body which was transferred to Liverpool University Pathology department at Leahurst for a post mortem. 

In an independent veterinary report into the welfare of Hugo, the vet said suffered as a result of the punch.

“It is my expert opinion that clearly Hugo was caused to suffer as a result of being punched at least twice once to the chest as admitted by Mr Rowles and once to the nose as indicated by the post mortem examination,” he said.

“Hugo was clearly conscious and hence able to experience pain and distress following the attack for at least 15 minutes based on Mr Rowles own account and therefore in my expert opinion was suffering.”

It was also heard that on 8 April, Rowles had taken Hugo to the PDSA as an emergency as he was having breathing problems.

The report said: “He was admitted and a diagnosis of aspiration pneumonia was made at that time and Hugo was initially given a very poor prognosis for survival but with intensive care he survived and was successfully discharged back to Mr Rowles on the 10t April. 

“At interview Mr Rowles denies that he caused Hugo any injury at this time and states that Hugo had fallen and that this fall had been witnessed by Mr Rowles’ twin brother.”

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