When the family dog, Becks, got fleas, Charlene Draper did what any responsible owner would do: she treated him with canine anti-flea shampoo. As a result, thanks to Britain’s biggest animal welfare charity, she found herself in court last week, facing up to six months in prison and costs of £8,000.
“It’s been a massive worry, really draining. It’s been hanging over me for more than a year, not knowing what’s going to happen,” she said yesterday. “When I was found not guilty, I just burst into tears.”
Ms Draper, from Milton Keynes, didn’t know it, and the instructions with the shampoo didn’t tell her, but some dogs are allergic to the saliva left behind when a flea bites them, and the shampoo can increase the chances of getting the allergy. “It is a very common problem,” says Colin Vogel, a vet who testified for the defence. “I have seen it hundreds of times in practice. This is what makes this such an outrageous case.”
-Have Your Say: Is the RSPCA losing your trust? An increasing number of RSPCA prosecutions have faced mounting public criticism. Have you lost faith in the RSPCA over recent years or do you believe the charity is on the right track?