A couple were caught on camera repeatedly throwing their pet dog into the sea, a court heard.
John Nesbitt, 62, and Linda Jones, 51, hurled their four year old terrier dog called Jess into the sea from a slipway at Exmouth, Devon.
Jess narrowly avoided injury as she plunged head first towards the concrete just below the surface of the sea. The little dog twisted in the air as she flew towards the seas. She was thrown in at least four times.
The court heard that the couple were photographed by an eye witness.
Jones and Nesbitt, both from Exmouth, Devon, were convicted of a charge of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. The couple claimed they were just trying to keep their pet cool during a hot day in April.
Prosecutor Clifford Howard told Exeter magistrates court that an eye witness ‘was on Exmouth docks taking some pictures and witnessed the incident – and his photos were shown to the court. Police arrested the pair and interviewed them.’
Prosecutor Clifford Howard said: ‘Both of them accepted that the dog called Jess was thrown into the sea by them. However they claimed they were cooling her down because she was hot.’
Mr Howard said beneath the water was a concrete slipway but said the couple would not know how shallow the water was at the point and where the solid concrete was under the sea.
The prosecutor said the first photos showed Mr Nesbitt throwing Jess into the water after holding her in his arms. The second batch showed Jones holding her before launching her into the sea from shoulder height and the dog ‘hitting the water’.
Mr Howard said Jess would have been in danger of hitting the concrete base of the slipway. Mr Clews said: ‘The male picked up the dog and chucked it into the sea. It went into the sea and got back out. Then the woman picked it up and she chucked it in the sea. I saw the dog hit the water.’
Jones told the magistrates: ‘I am so angry. I know the sea like the back of my hand. I just want my baby back.’ Jones told police in her interview: ‘I did not throw the dog in the water, Mr Nesbitt did. I could not have thrown her into the sea, I couldn’t pick her up, she is too heavy to throw into the sea.
‘She was just going in for a swim – to wetten her.’ But later she admitted: ‘I did throw her into the sea’ but said she ‘plopped’ her in. Four year old Jess was unhurt but a vet said she could have been as she twisted face first into the shallow water. Jones said: ‘All my dogs go into the sea. The water was clear, it was not dangerous. It was a lovely hot day in April. I would gladly do it again.
‘Whoosh, she goes to the bottom and up she comes. She is 18 inches tall and shakes herself off. She swims out of the sea – doggy paddles. It wasn’t that shallow, the tide was coming in.’
Nesbitt said they both threw her in twice and Nesbitt said Jess flew a ‘few feet’ in the air into the sea. He called them ‘little dips in the sea’. The black and tan terrier has not been allowed back with them since their arrest in May.
Defence lawyer Jeremy Tricks did not call either defendant to give evidence. He said: ‘Linda Jones handling of the dog was foolish.’
But he argued that the did not cause Jess unnecessary suffering and that dogs are ‘resilient animals’.
Exeter magistrates convicted them after hearing from vet David Cooper that Jess could have suffered injuries to her spine, legs and jaw after twisting and plunging into the sea.
The magistrates said the pair should have known their actions could have caused the dog suffering. The Crown want a life ban on them keeping animals and an order depriving them of Jess. Jess is still in boarding RSPCA kennels. Sentence was adjourned until next month.