MOLLY is a happy, energetic collie-cross who loves playing with her Chester owner Angela Hampson and sleeps curled up next to the family cat.
But less than two years ago, RSPCA officers feared for her life after they found her pregnant and life-threateningly emaciated, crammed into a small room with nine other starved dogs.
Molly’s puppies had to be aborted because she was too ill to carry them to full term. RSPCA inspectors say she had already carried two litters and some of the dogs found in the room with her may have been her offspring.
Her former owner Cheryl Patricia Antrobus, of Huyton, Liverpool was last year banned from keeping animals for five years after pleading guilty to 10 counts of failing to provide an adequate diet and veterinary attention.
RSPCA inspector Claire Cain, who found the dogs, said: “This was a really tragic case. Most of the dogs were extremely emaciated. The vet was amazed that the pregnant bitch survived the anaesthetic to abort her pups at all.”
Molly’s rescue story was told this week as the RSPCA revealed 2007 saw a 34% increase in convictions for cruelty to dogs.
In Cheshire last year, 14 people were convicted of cruelty, one person was jailed and 12 people were given written cautions.
Angela, who lives in Boughton, said it was “surreal” to see photos of her four-year-old pet’s emaciated condition for the first time this week.
She said: “They gave me some of her history when I first met her so I knew she was quite emaciated when they found her but I didn’t realise how badly.
“Luckily she doesn’t seem to have been affected by her past. She is an incredibly placid, laid back animal and really gentle. She shares a bed with our cat Bella and they are really good friends.
“I warned my husband Dave Poustie and 14-year-old daughter Lydia Hampson-Delamere, who goes to Bishop’s High School that she might have behavioural problems but when we brought her home it was like she had just been out for a walk.
“I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend someone goes to the RSPCA for a pet. The good thing is that because they know the animal they know its personality and needs, so you know what you are taking on.”