A DECORATED serviceman who left his three dogs to starve for a month is facing a jail term.
Miles Rodriguez, 24, abandoned his three dogs, letting a puppy starve to death, at his home in Red Lodge, when he was confined to his base at RAF Mildenhall.
When the senior airman was allowed back to the rented house a senior officer, who had given him a lift, found two emaciated dogs. Dougie, a one-year-old tan and white Staffordshire bull terrier weighed just 19 pounds compared to his previous healthy weight of 35 pounds and was so thin and dehydrated his collar could fit over his head. One-year-old tan and silver Yorkshire terrier, Louie, was covered in faeces and matted hair and weighed just three pounds.
Six days later RSPCA officers found the body of his black and white Staffordshire bull terrier puppy, Mac, decomposing in a kennel outside.
Magistrates at Bury St Edmunds heard how Rodriguez had split with his wife, Dina Rucobo, in January this year and was left to care for his Staffordshire bull terrier, Dougie. His ex-wife also left her Yorkshire terrier, Louie, with him so the dogs could stay together and because the house had outside space.
Shortly after the split Rodriguez bought his new puppy, but, despite having the three dogs, only visited his empty marital home every other day.
The visits stopped all together when he was confined to the base for 60 days, from June 22, as punishment for bad behaviour and he made no arrangements for them to be fed or watered.
On June 29, when he was taken to the property by his staff sergeant to clean it up as the rental contract was about to finish the starving dogs were discovered. The court heard Rodriguez tried to solve the problem by throwing the pets over his fence into his neighbour’s garden.
Hugh Rowland, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said “The staff sergeant went in first and noticed a terrible smell,” he told the court. “He found the two dogs. They were just skin and bone. One of which looked like it was about to die.
“He had not been aware any dogs were kept in the house. He went to get a colleague to help with the massive clear-up operation, when he came back the dogs had gone. He could see they had been put in the garden of the nearby neighbour who was a colleague of the defendant.”
The court heard the dogs were taken to a vet who described their condition as ‘terrible’ and said if they had not been found they would have died from malnutrition fairly shortly afterwards. Mr Rowland the told the court how the body of the third dog had been found decomposing in a black and white plastic dog kennel.
When Rodriguez was interviewed by RSPCA inspectors he said recently his life had “gone wrong”.
He pleaded guilty to three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal by failing to provide adequate nutrition for the animal’s needs between May 29 and June 29 this year. He admitted leaving Dougie and Louie without food or water, but claimed he sold Mac before his death despite not having any contact details for the new owners.
But magistrates rejected his version of events and said it “defied common sense” that the new owners would have dumped Mac back at his house.
The court, which was told the dogs had since recovered and were being looked after by Rodriguez’s ex-wife in America, heard that in March this year Rodriguez was awarded the Medal of Commendation by the US Defence Department, for meritorious service.
Rodriguez told magistrates: “I was going through some issues with my ex-wife. I had to go through mental health, anger management and substance abuse.”
Chairman of the bench Dennis Heath warned him he could face prison.
“Custody must be considered along with a life-time ban on keeping animals,” he said.
Rodriguez will be sentenced next month.