If you’re not a pet owner, it’s somewhat difficult to describe just how important these furry little friends are to the lives of others. For many, a dog is more than just a dog – he or she is a member of someone’s family and is often treated as such.
Hidden Camera

Even still, with the busy lives we lead, many people turn to outside assistance in an effort to better take care of these animals. A lot of people hire professional dog walkers during the day, for example. Yes, you’re putting a certain degree of trust in someone that they will take care of your pet as if it were their own – but in the vast majority of all situations, things go exactly as they should. Unfortunately, some people aren’t so lucky.

Such is the case with Gary Hirtsch and Louise Williams, who recently observed their own dog walker engaging in behavior that is more than just unprofessional – it’s potentially damaging to the animal’s long-term health. The couple had installed a CCTV surveillance camera on their property to try to understand why their beloved dog Bella’s behavior had suddenly changed in February of last year. What they found was every animal lover’s worst nightmare.

The Dog Walker and the Hidden Camera

Jacqueline Wilkins, a “professional dog walker,” was filmed striking the family’s dog Bella not once but twice behind the neck. Wilkins had told the dog to sit still repeatedly, which it was unable or unwilling to do. Rather than trying to deal with the situation like a calm and rational adult, Wilkins instead decided to hit and shout at the dog – and all of it was captured on a hidden camera.

On the video footage, Wilkins is repeatedly heard shouting things like. “you’re not doing as you’re told, are you?!” and “do you want another smack?!” Obviously, this only made the situation worse, not better.
Immediately after reviewing their footage, the couple reported the incident to the RSPCA. After the video footage was turned over, Wilkins was taken to court over her outbursts. She has now been banned from either keeping or caring for pets – either hers or someone else’s – for at least two full years.

In a statement that was given to local news agencies, Gary Hirtsch said that “it’s just disgusting what she did, and I’m glad we got justice for Bella. She did not deserve to be treated like that.”It’s a sad situation, specifically because the couple had hired the dog walker in the first place when the wife broke her wrist and was unable to walk her dogs as frequently as they were used to. Rather than worrying about herself, she was still worried about her animals more than anything.

To make matters worse, the couple say that they have yet to receive so much as an apology from Jacqueline Wilkins – who apparently still sees nothing wrong with what she did. In fact, Wilkins initially pleaded “not guilty” to the whole affair. She only switched her plea, apparently begrudgingly, when an expert testified about the psychological damage that Bella likely could have suffered.

In addition to not being able to care for or own animals for two years, Wilkins will also have to complete 12 months of community service with at least 100 hours of unpaid work volunteering for an RSPCA education program. She will also have to pay a fine of $300. It was Hirtsch who perhaps said it best when he stated, “we had put her in a position of trust. I think they’ve done the right thing for the safety of other dogs.”

Indeed, it’s a terrible situation – but it’s also one that, for now, has a somewhat positive outcome. All of it was possible thanks to the hidden camera that the couple decided to install on their property. Without that technology, they may never have been able to get to the bottom of what was clearly a very serious issue for all of them.