You might think that matted hair is only aesthetically unpleasant, but there are real health risks when a dog’s coat becomes unmanageable. Consider the case of Derek Goldsmith and his dog Cheeky, perhaps the worst case of bad barbering outside of Sweeney Todd. Goldsmith, a 64-year-old man, is facing jail time before an English court because he allowed the hair on his dog’s paws to become so matted that the paws had to be amputated.
Cheeky, a 14-year-old Shih Tzu cross, was rescued by the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in August when neighbors called the authorities. Inspector Tony Woodley, who brought Cheeky in, told the Daily Mail that “This poor dog was so matted that there was simply no blood supply getting through to her paws so they fell off — it was tragic. Together with rotten teeth, she was not in a good way.”
Goldsmith pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in court Thursday (Nov. 14) and is scheduled to be sentenced in December.
Perhaps one of the most boneheaded — and heartbreaking — things about this case is that Goldsmith was aware of the problem for a long time. Cheeky’s paws were so sensitive, and in so much pain, that she couldn’t be walked outside. In court, prosecutor David Buck said that Goldsmith didn’t take her in to a vet because he was afraid that she’d be taken away. And apparently with good cause, because that was what happened anyway. Goldsmith did at least try to cut the hair off himself, but Cheeky wouldn’t let him near her.
Unlike a lot of boneheads, Goldsmith doesn’t sound terribly sadistic or malicious. He sounds like an old man who was ignorant about how to take care of his dog. In the end, of course, that didn’t save Cheeky’s paws, or her teeth. As RSPCA Inspector Woodley says, “Cheeky was in hospital for months and cost the RSPCA thousands. She was in a lot of pain. This was long-term neglect.”
The one good thing to come out of this is that Cheeky now has a new life, a new home, and a new name. The RSPCA gave her a wheeled harness to get around without her front paws and rehomed her. Now called Florence, she’s living with a woman named Karen Branagh, who says that the dog is adapting to life without paws.
“Florence is a little darling,” Branagh told the Daily Mail. “She is doing very well and is adorable and she can now walk on carpet and soft grass.”
That seems like a good note to end on; for every Bonehead, there should be at least one person to pick up the slack. Fortunately for Cheeky/Florence, there were whole teams of people there.