A man from Wrexham spent money meant to pay for his sick dog’s treatment on his gambling habit.

Christopher Stewart Higgins, 52, then hatched a ruse by pretending he had found his wife's dog collapsed at a roadside in order to get veterinary treatment.

Higgins, pretending to be a passing motorcyclist, had managed to flag down a passing vet at the Plas Acton junction with Gresford on July 22.

Glenn Murphy, prosecuting for RSPCA, told Wrexham Magistrates Court yesterday that the dog was taken to Daleside Veterinary Group in nearby Rhosrobin and, in the absence of an owner, vets felt it was in the dog’s best interest for him to be put to sleep.

RSPCA officer Jenny Anderton, who was called to the surgery, saw the Jack Russell terrier cross had collapsed and had a large tumour on his right side.

There was also clear evidence of maggots throughout his fur.

The vet reported that the dog had a large tumour in its left lumbar area and a wound on its right side, and was also suffering from fly strike (an irritation of a dog's ear caused by biting flies).

An investigation was launched, including a public appeal and it emerged the dog belonged to a Sharon and Christopher Higgins, Mr Murphy said. 

Higgins, of Maes Hyfryd in New Rhosrobin,  had been given money from his wife to take the dog to the vet for some considerable time and as there was no improvement, he told her that the dog had been put down.

Mrs Higgins had physical and mental difficulties that made it difficult for her to deal with the problem herself, the court heard.

He was quite emaciated and there were maggots in the wound and signs of ulceration in the tumour.

The problems could have been easily avoided by seeking veterinary treatment when the weight loss was first noticed, the vet’s report concluded.

When interviewed, Higgins appeared remorseful and apologised for not being truthful with the RSPCA.

He told how he had washed maggots of the dog in the shower shortly before the incident, and had been washing the dog to deal with the tumour for some time.

Higgins added that he had also placed a “lampshade” device on the dog’s head.

He had panicked on the day in question as he did not have money for treatment, the court heard. 

Higgins had gambling problems and that was where the money for the vet had gone but on the day in question he had gone somewhere he knew that someone would stop, and would never had left the dog.

Mr Murphy added Higgins seemed to think it was acceptable to treat the pet without a vet’s advice.

Higgins pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal between July 8 and 22 by failing to provide the necessary veterinary care.

Catherine Jagger, defending, said the dog was a family pet who had not stopped eating of drinking during the period.

An RSPCA report told how the tumour was confined to one location and that there was no evidence of emaciation.

The dog was being fed a specialised food which had been recommended online. Higgins was also using Manuka honey, which had been recommended for the sore, for a few weeks.

He was deeply ashamed, accepted that he neglected the dog during the last couple of weeks of its life, and that he had undertaken a ruse to treat him without going through the proper channels.

Higgins, who had asked about the dog at the surgery, said in interview that he did not have the guts to tell the vet or RSPCA that he was the owner.

He added: “I hope he’s not looking down on me and hating me for what I have done.”

Higgins did not oppose a disqualification as he felt that he did not deserve to have a dog in the future, Miss Jagger added.

She said Higgins had been well-intentioned but incompetent, as he has got his dog to the vet, albeit not by conventional means.

However it was too late to save him.

It was an isolated incident, the court heard, and Higgins was no longer gambling.

Magistrates’ chairman Andrew Stubbs said they took into account Higgins’ guilty plea and remorse, adding that he had shown incompetence rather than malice.

Mr Stubbs disqualified Higgins from keeping dogs for three years and fined him £130, along with a £30 surcharge and costs of £375.  

After the case RSPCA Inspector Jenny Anderton said: “This is such an awful case which involved the serious neglect of a dog, who was suffering unnecessarily.

“The pictures of the tumour are very graphic and show the horrific condition of Scooby.

”The tumour had become ulcerated and during the hot weather had become infested with maggots and seriously infected.

”The vet also found Scooby to be very thin.

“It is just so sad that it came to this and Scooby wasn’t able to be saved.

“Mr Higgins is very remorseful.”