Man fined after pet tortoise ‘King Billy’ dies

A GLASGOW man has been fined £100 after the negligence of his pet tortoise led to its death.

George MacIver, of Duntarvie Gardens, Easterhouse in Glasgow’s East End, pled guilty at Glasgow Sherriff Court on Thursday to animal cruelty and received the fine which was discounted from £150 because of his early plea.

The 33 year old was also given a one year ban on keeping pets, effective from the date of the trial, April 4th.
The horsefield tortoise, known as King Billy, was ten years old, measuring 2 ft by 1 ft by 1 ft.

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He was neglected between April and September last year and when MacIver alerted the Scottish SPCA on September 19th of the pet’s deteriorating condition, the animal was in need of immediate veterinary attention.

However, weighing only 235 grams – a huge drop from the average tortoise weight of 500 grams – the tortoise was beyond recovery and the vet had no choice but to have him put down.

As a reptile, King Billy required essential heat supervision and ultra violet lighting, as well as fresh food and water.

But when he was found by the Scottish SPCA, there was no heat source, food or water available in his vivarium, resulting in the animal suffering emancipation, dehydration, respiratory disease and red markings on his shell, a clear sign of septicaemia, over the five month period.

The reptile was also suffering from metabolic bone disease, making his shell and head soft, when they should have been hard. The Scottish SPCA said this was again caused by lack of food and a suitable environment.

Sheriff John Baird told MacIver: “It is obvious this animal must have suffered.”

MacIver, who was made unemployed four years ago, admitted that he was fully aware that the tortoise was incredibly ill but did not that the necessary steps to seek medical care for his pet for financial reasons.

He said: “I lost my job and couldn’t pay for a vet when it took not well.”

Speaking when the tortoise was put to sleep, MacIver added: “Of course we were upset, it’s like any pet.”

Paul Mullen, defending, said MacIver, “failed to prioritise the needs of the tortoise”, after being made unemployed.

The solicitor added that his client had taken the animal to the animal charity, PDSA, but was told they did not have the expertise to deal with it and that nothing was done after that.

MacIver also owned a dog, a cat and a snake. Special arrangements have been made for all three pets, in keeping with MacIver’s one year animal ban.

Scottish SPCA Super Inspector Billy Linton said: “Given that MacIver has demonstrated he is unfit to provide even the most basic level of care for an animal, we welcome today’s conviction.”

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