The pitiful groan of a dog that was about to die after being “starved” by its owner and rescued at the last minute was truly heartbreaking.

The dying pooch would have died within hours if she had not been found in a lay-by as she had been neglected for months.

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A dying lurcher was subjected to the worst case of neglect ever seen by vets and was so weak that she was unable to stand up on her own.

The dog’s plight was discovered when she was heard screaming by witnesses as her cruel owner shouted abuse at her for more than an hour.

Perth Sheriff Court was told that the dog had been neglected for months and would have died within hours if it had not been found a lay-by.

Christopher Robertson was banned from keeping or owning any animal for a period of 20 years when he appeared in the dock yesterday.

Sheriff Francis Gill said: “This was a shocking catalogue of neglect in respect of two dogs, particularly the lurcher. It appeared to me from the photographs that you treated this dog appallingly.

“A vet described it as the worst he had ever seen and, in his view, no responsible person could have failed to realise it needed urgent attention. I commend the actions of the witnesses who reported this to police.”

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Robertson admitted that between 13 March and 13 July 2018 he caused the lurcher unnecessary suffering by failing to provide it with adequate food or medical attention. The dog developed mange and a parasitic infestation, and was covered in wounds and maggots.

He also admitted having a knife and acting in a threatening or abusive manner in a lay-by on the A822 Muthill-Braco road on 13 July 2018. He admitted failing to appear in court in September 2018.

Fiscal depute Sarah Wilkinson told the court that Robertson had approached a house and asked the resident if they could put water for his dog in a stinking diesel can.

The resident was “unsettled by his appearance and demeanour” and declined, and a short time later they heard him hurling abuse at the dog and a border terrier.

They heard the sound of a male with a deep voice ‘roaring’ and the sound of a small dog yelping, and a larger dog screaming. The male voice shouted ‘fucking bastard.’

“It continued for about an hour. The witnesses became increasingly alarmed for the welfare of the dogs. They saw the same accused in a lay-by on the A822.

“He was pacing up and down and every time he returned to the lay-by the sound of the distressed dogs would start again. They phoned the police.”

Officers arrived and found Robertson with the lurcher dog, which was so malnourished her ribs and hips were showing through her skin.

Robertson lifted the feeble dog into his pickup and then crawled under the vehicle where he tried to hide from the officers for several minutes. They saw a sheathed knife in his trousers.

He told the officers he had had the dog for a couple of years and that he was carrying a knife because he was a gamekeeper. He was arrested and the dog was rushed to Tay Valley vets.

Vet Rhuairidh Mackenzie said: “The dog was extremely emaciated, with extensive patchy hair loss and numerous wounds to the body.

“She was so weak she struggled to stand or walk. She had profuse diarrhoea and was in need of immediate medical attention. She was given IV fluids.

“She was outwith the normal readings attributed to extreme malnutrition. We wrapped her paws in bubble wrap to increase her temperature.

“She weighed 8.3 kilos, when a dog of that breed would normally be 12 to 15 kilos. Normal food portions would have been dangerous to her liver.

“It was difficult to estimate how long it took to get to this stage. Scars and lesions were prolific. She had sores all over her body.

“The body condition of this lurcher was the worst I had ever seen. It was at the extreme end of mistreatment. No reasonable person could have looked at her and not known she needed treatment.”

Fellow vet Kate Jamieson said: “There were signs of her organs being under pressure. Her protein levels were very low too. This is a sign she had not been fed for a long time.

“Whippets are quite sensitive and cold little dogs. If you never fed one or left it outside, they can go downhill as quickly as two weeks.

“However, it’s my opinion that in this case it has been months of neglect. If the whippet had not received treatment when it did, I think it would have died over the weekend.

“It has been the worst case of neglect that I have seen – definitely the skinniest.”


The vets reported that the dog recovered enough to be discharged.

Robertson was given a 20-year ban and was placed on a curfew for nine months.