Woman from Leyland who buried puppy alive banned from keeping animals for life

Photo of puppy buried alive
Owner Inga Ozola was banned from keeping animals for life Credit: RSPCA

A woman from Lancashire who buried her puppy alive has been banned from keeping animals for life - after detective work from two RSPCA inspectors linked her to the crime.

Spencer the Pomeranian was found buried in the ground inside a ripped bin liner in April 2019. Vets found he had two broken legs and nerve damage and had to end the dog's suffering by putting him to sleep.

Inga Ozola, aged 45, of Seven Stars Road in Leyland, was seen on CCTV walking to the remote spot near the town's Worden Park wearing a backpack. She later told an RSPCA inspector she was carrying a bottle of water.

She was initially found guilty of two animal welfare charges when she was sentenced at Preston Magistrates’ Court.

Ozola seen on CCTV walking towards the burial site wearing a backpack Credit: RSPCA

Ozola was given an 18-month suspended sentence, ordered to carry 120 hours of unpaid work and 10 rehabilitation activity requirement days. She was also ordered to pay costs of £2,000 and banned from keeping all animals for 18 months.

But her appeal at Preston Crown Court backfired - as she was ordered to pay a further £2,000 costs and saw the 18-month ban extended to a lifetime one.

The hearing was told how the terrified puppy had been found by a member of the public on 27 April 2019, buried in the ground in a remote location by a couple and their dogs, which had sniffed it out.

The couple took the dog home and a neighbour then contacted their friend Susie Micalleff, who works as an RSPCA inspector.

She was off-duty but contacted her on-duty colleague RSPCA Inspector Alison Fletcher, who then investigated with Inspector Milcallef.

The remote spot where Spencer was buried Credit: RSPCA

Inspector Fletcher said: “The spot where Spencer was found was far off the well-walked track and deeper into an undergrowth area.

''The ground the puppy was buried in was very much hidden away and the fact that he had been spotted was extremely lucky. In my opinion the area was chosen to ensure that no one was likely to see him.''

Spencer was taken to the RSPCA Greater Manchester Animal Hospital in Salford for urgent treatment where despite the best efforts of the vet team to save him it was decided the kindest thing to do was to put him to sleep to end his suffering.

Inspector Fletcher and Inspector Milcallef were then able to track down Ozola and interview her about what happened. 

Vets had to put Spencer to sleep to end his suffering Credit: RSPCA

Ozola said she had bred a litter of Pomeranians and Spencer had injured his leg whilst playing with the other dogs.

The seven-week-old dog had been taken to the vets in 8 April 2019 and an X-ray revealed he had a fracture of the right tibia. Pain relief was administered and Spencer was confined to a cage to allow his leg to rest and heal. Later on 23 April, Spencer was returned by Ozola for a follow-up examination and a further X-ray showed that the fracture had been displaced.

The owner was given the option of surgical repair at a cost of £2,000, or amputation of the limb, or euthanasia. The court heard how Ozola had returned home with Spencer to consider her options and had subsequently applied for financial assistance to help with the costs but was unfortunately not eligible.

The court also heard how Inspector Fletcher had been told by Ozola that Spencer was given away on the morning of 27 April, 2019, to an acquaintance from Lithuainia. However, no surname or contact details for the man who had taken Spencer was ever provided.

But CCTV footage of Ozola, which was shown in court, showed her walking - with a backpack on - towards the area where Spencer was buried on the morning of 27 April, 2019, and returning to her house 30 minutes later. When asked what was being carried in the backpack she was wearing, she told the officer it was a bottle of water.

Inspector Fletcher added: “This was a tragic case in which a young puppy suffered, by not receiving the vet treatment he needed for his injuries and then by being subjected to being buried alive. 

“This distressing case had a profound and lasting effect on all those involved from the members of the public who found Spencer, myself and my fellow officers involved in investigating and the RSPCA vets and staff.

“I take some comfort in the fact he was found and not left alone to suffer and die - but was surrounded by love and people trying their best to help him.”