Peterborough man left dogs to die in hot car for five hours, court told

Jonathan Theobald outside Peterborough Magistrates' Court - photo courtesy of the BBC
Jonathan Theobald outside Peterborough Magistrates' Court - photo courtesy of the BBC

Three dogs were slowly cooked alive when their owner left them in a hot car for five hours while he trained in the gym, a court heard.

Jonathan Theobald (65) of Lincoln Road left Staffordshire Bull Terrier-type dogs Daisy, Mitch and Rascal inside his vehicle with no water or ventilation.

When he finally returned to his car, he saw two of the dogs were already dead before trying to save the third using CPR after noticing it was showing signs of life.

Prosecutor Charlotte Murray told Peterborough Magistrates’ Court yesterday: “The dogs would have gone through stages of panic, seizures and made attempts to escape before dying of over-heating of the brain.”

Ms Murray told the court a post-mortem examination revealed all three had perished as a result of hyperthermia.

On the day the dogs were locked inside the car, temperatures outside peaked at 19’c in Peterborough.

PC Peacock of Cambridgeshire police attended the car park of Vivacity Premier Fitness in Hampton on June 16 and was immediately aware that the dogs were dead.

They had been inside the car since 10.29am but were not freed until around 3.30pm, the court heard.

Ms Murray added: “He [Theobald] admitted [to PC Peacock] he had left them in the car for too long and it was a fair cop.”

Theobald pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to three dogs by confining them in an environment which was detrimental to their well-being which lead to their death.

Kevin Warboys, defending Theobald, said: “This is a man with exemplary character. Under the harrowing circumstances he responded as well as he could.

“He told officers ‘I’m the one to blame, I made a terrible mistake’.”

Chairman of the magistrates’ bench Andrew May adjourned the sentencing until September 28 for the probation service to draw up a pre-sentence report.

Speaking after the case RSPCA Inspector Justin Stubbs said: “All too often we find people leaving their dogs in cars thinking ‘they will be okay, I will only be five minutes’, even thinking the dogs are happier in the car rather than being home alone.

“This case is a genuine tragic accident, but it will happen again.

“People will think the dog will be okay, but it won’t.”