Jacqueline Wilkins struck a three-year-old boxer called Bella in its owner’s sitting room when it failed to sit still to have its harness removed. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

A PROFESSIONAL dog walker has been banned from caring for animals for two years after she was caught on camera hitting and shouting at a client’s pet.

Jacqueline Wilkins, 46, struck a three-year-old boxer called Bella in its owner’s sitting room. She hit the dog twice behind the neck with her right hand when it failed to sit still to have its harness removed.

Unaware of CCTV in the owner’s property, she can also be heard repeatedly shouting at the dog, saying, ‘You’re not doing as you’re told, are you?’ and ‘Do you want another smack?’

Bella’s owners, Gary Hirtsch, 39, and Louise Williams, 32, had installed cameras to monitor Bella and their other dog Coco, a two-year-old sprocker spaniel.

They checked the footage due to a change in Bella’s behaviour. ‘I was shocked,’ said Mr Hirtsch. ‘It’s not something I’d have thought I had to worry about from someone who is supposed to love dogs.’

They reported the incident to the RSPCA and Wilkins, of Pudsey, West Yorkshire, was taken to court. She admitted failing to protect a dog from injury or distress and was banned from keeping or caring for a pet for two years.

Leeds Magistrates also imposed 100 hours of unpaid work, an RSPCA education programme and £385 in costs and surcharges.

Prosecutor Andrew Davidson said: ‘There’s very rarely any reason for using that type of behaviour to discipline a dog.’

The court had that Wilkins was ‘completely remorseful’. She felt she was disciplining Bella at the time but now recognised that her behaviour was wrong.

She had told her other clients about the case, prompting some to write positive references and two to attend court in support

Wilkins was visibly upset on leaving the hearing after being told that she could not keep her own dog, Bentley, during the two-year ban. Her friend and client Janet Pearson said afterwards: ‘Her dog is like her baby. It’s not just a business to her. Dogs are her life. I think the court has made an example of her.

‘If I thought she didn’t care and was cruel, clearly there’s no way she would look after mine.’ But owner Mr Hirtsch said: ‘I feel relieved. I think they’ve done the right thing for the safety of the other dogs. It’s just disgusting what she did and I’m glad we have got justice for Bella.

‘Bella was so friendly, but then she was reluctant to go out. She used to cower on the sofa.’

© Daily Mail