A PRIMARY school teacher from Wirral is to be sentenced today after admitting neglecting an elderly dog to the point where vets believed it was "already dead".

West Highland Terrier “Snowy” had to be put down after a severe ear infection went untreated for “at least several weeks, if not months”.

Animal welfare officers found the dog – believed to be aged between 17 and 20 – in an “appalling” state after “suffering on numerous levels”.

Susan Horncastle, of Brookthorpe Close, Wallasey, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to Snowy when she appeared at Wirral Magistrates’ Court in October.

The 60-year-old – the headteacher at The Our Lady of Good Help Primary School in Wavertree – will be sentenced today, Monday.

Magistrates heard how the RSPCA had been called to Horncastle’s home on July 10 after concerns were raised about the welfare of a dog.

There was no answer or sign of a dog, but an “overpowering stench of rotting flesh” could be smelled through the letter box.

A calling card was left at the address but Horncastle denied receiving one.

Snowy, who had an untreated ear infection and an infected tumour on its rear, was later taken to a Wirral veterinary surgery where staff initially thought he was dead.

During the last court hearing, Chris Murphy, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said: “When the dog was found he was in a very poor condition and he had to be put down on humane grounds.”

Mr Murphy told the court how Snowy’s hips, ribs and spine could be clearly seen through his fur, which was greasy, matted and covered in faeces.

His teeth were loose, which Mr Murphy said would have made it difficult for him to eat.

Mr Murphy added: “The vet said the dog was in a shocking condition after several weeks, if not months, of suffering on numerous levels.”

The court heard how Horncastle had initially denied owning any animals but later said she had looked after Snowy – who belonged to her sister – on an “on/off basis” for four years while her sister was in Australia.

Mr Murphy added: “Ms Horncastle said she didn’t get any cards from the RSPCA. She said she was going to get the dogs’ coat cleaned but he had a bit of a runny tummy and she didn’t realise it was losing weight.

“She accepted the dog was ill and said she that had she realised the dog was so poorly, she would have taken it to the vet.”

Horncastle was described as a “lady of good character” with no previous convictions.

The court heard how she suffers from two forms of arthritis and has limited mobility.

Matthew Harvey, defending, said: “My client is 60-years-old and has never set foot in court in her life. The experience has been terrifying for her.”

Horncastle was released on unconditional bail until today.