Harrowing video showing horrific scene faced by an RSPCA inspector on finding a dying dog locked in a filthy house.

Harrowing video showing horrific scene faced by an RSPCA inspector on finding a dying dog locked in a filthy house.

Harrowing video footage shows the horrific scene faced by an RSPCA animal rescuer as she went to an emergency call-out following reports that a dying dog had been found locked in a filthy house.

Laura Barber, an RSPCA inspector for 15 years, said finding four dead pets inside the "faeces-filled and flea-ridden property" is the worst case she has dealt with during her career.

dirty cloakroom with rubbish strewn across floors and filthy toilet © RSPCANew figures issued by the RSPCA reveal that 90,000 dogs suffered at the hands of humans last year. The public's support is essential to help stop this cruelty for good

In this particular case, house clearance workers had come across an emaciated and poorly boxer-type dog at an address in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, on November 5 and reported the matter to the RSPCA. The dog, called Lacey, was rushed to Blue Cross Animal Hospital for emergency veterinary treatment.

Laura was sent to gather evidence and once at the address, she uncovered a house of horrors. 

Recalling the moment she went to the house: 

I went inside but the landlord chose to remain outside due to the disgusting state of the property. I knew it was going to be bad when I saw flies around the door. We're used to dealing with some horrific situations - but this one was truly awful and so upsetting.

On opening the front door I could immediately see the hallway entrance was covered in dried, crusty excrement and there were cobwebs everywhere. The house smelt of ammonia and was full of rubbish.

But worse was to come when Laura entered an upstairs room - piled high with rubbish - she found the decomposing body of a dog.  

The wall next to where the dead dog lay, showed exposed wood and fallen plaster on the floor suggesting this pet called Lily, had spent some time trying to claw her way out of what had become a horrendous prison cell.

Laura said: 

There was a green plastic bowl that was empty that had been chewed all around its edges. There was a metal pan with some dog biscuits in it which was covered over with cobwebs. There was also an empty small saucepan with dog biscuits on the floor mixed in with the dog excrement. This room was extremely upsetting to see.

Downstairs in the living room, Laura also found the bodies of two dead lizards housed in cobweb-covered vivariums which had no power and no food or water available. Again they appeared to have been deceased for some time.

Laura continued into the kitchen and found a dog crate which was covered in excrement indicating a dog had been locked in the cage at some point for a considerable amount of time.

She reported:

The excrement was hard and was approximately five inches deep in places. There was also a dog bowl that had nearly been covered with excrement.

Laura removed the dead animals as part of the RSPCA investigation and then visited the emaciated white boxer-type dog, who had been rushed to the vet.

Lacey's story

Lacey was aged about eight years old and was in very poor health. She was emaciated, crawling with fleas and had urine stains on her legs from where she had been lying in her own wee.

Lacey was so weak, she couldn't stand unaided. Laura explained: 

It was a pitiful sight to see. She was unable to stand and was only able to lift her head up to respond to my voice and touch. She had a thick, brown discharge coming from her nostril, and her left eye was cloudy and appeared strange. Even though she wouldn't stand, I could clearly see this dog was in a very poor, emaciated condition. I could see and feel all her spine, ribs and pelvic bones. 

Her legs were heavily stained and instead of being white were a dirty yellow, colour indicating she had laid in her own urine for some time. I could clearly see loads of fleas crawling through her coat and in the bedding. She was in such a poor state, it was heartbreaking to see.

close-up of head of emaciated white boxer-type dog © RSPCALacey remained in the care of the Blue Cross Animal Centre in Grimsby where she began to make some progress and enjoyed human attention.

How the investigation progressed

Through her investigation, Laura tracked down the previous occupant of the property. During an interview, the man admitted to leaving the dogs Lacey and Lily locked in separate bedrooms - full of faeces, urine and fleas.

He also told how a young dog called Hercules was housed for about three months in a cage in his own filth - and how he decided not to feed the reptiles and to leave them dying a lingering death. The body of Hercules was subsequently found in a freezer at the property.

The man, who has since died before his prosecution went to court, claimed Lacey was his dog but that he was left with the other pets after a friend moved out. He kept the dogs in separate rooms as they didn't get on and he also claimed he couldn't clean any of the mess up as he had an injured leg.

During the interview, he coldly stated that Lacey had remained in her filth-ridden room - in her own faeces and urine - for two years and had never been out of it in that entire time. 

The man said Lily died from being locked in the other filthy bedroom:

There were piles of poo and fleas everywhere. I was covered in fleas when I went in but I couldn't afford treatment for her. Her face was white but looked black with all the fleas covering it and her eyes were yellow. That's basically how she died.

He also told how Hercules, found in the freezer, had been locked in the faeces-filled cage for three months. Asked how he died the defendant answered:

The cage - it is as simple as that. It was full of poo and no way could I get it out.

Lacey was adopted by Ryan Rouse, a Blue Cross member of staff, but sadly after a few months, due to the previous neglect, her health was deteriorating and a vet decided the kindest thing to do was to put her to sleep.

Ryan said: 

Lacey was so emaciated when she came to us, she had to be carried. She was given treatment and when the only option to house her was in kennels, I stepped in to offer her a foster home to give her a happy, safe place to live.

She soon became a member of the family and we gave her all the love we could give. Sadly, the years of neglect had taken their toll on her and when it was time to say goodbye, the team at Grimsby all gave her a cuddle and many tears were shed.

Laura added: 

It was heart-wrenching that in spite of the best efforts of the dedicated staff who cared and loved Lacey, she was not able to make the recovery we all really prayed for.

It was very upsetting but I take some comfort in the fact that she did get away from that awful prison cell and was able to enjoy the outside world and that she also found plenty of love and affection with all those who knew her.

This was a sickening case to deal with and it is so difficult to imagine the pain and suffering and sheer terror those pets went through as they died a lingering death in such awful circumstances.

portait shot of RSPCA Inspector Laura Barber © RSPCASadly, pets left suffering and dying is not a unique situation which is why the RSPCA's rescue teams need support to stay out on the frontline as the only charity rescuing animals and investigating cruelty

The RSPCA received 1,081,018 calls to its cruelty line in 2021 and these included reports of:

  • 1,094 killings or nearly three animals killed a day
  • 632 mutilations or 12 animals brutally mutilated every week
  • 7,857 beatings which equate to nearly one animal beaten every hour
  • 38,087 abandonments which equate to more than 100 animals callously abandoned every day

Our frontline teams are working hard to rescue animals in need this summer but we can't do it alone - we need your help to Cancel Out Cruelty

If you can't donate, there are other ways you can help Cancel Out Cruelty, from volunteering with the RSPCA, holding a bake sale or fundraiser, or taking part in the #50MilesForAnimals challenge.