A couple have been jailed and disqualified from keeping animals for life for starving their two pet dogs.
Graham Burn, 47, and Ann Boddy 34, said they could not afford to feed them properly and were locked in a cupboard under the stairs to hide them from a concerned RSPCA officer concerned for the animals.
The pair, both of Burbank Street, Hartlepool, appeared at Teesside Magistrates Court where they were jailed for 12 weeks and given a lifetime ban from keeping any kind of animals.
District Judge Harrison said the case was an example of prolonged neglect involving what she described as a protracted course of action involving months, if not years, of starvation resulting almost to the point of death.
They were each convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to mastiff-type dog Bisto and terrier Mogo by failing to explore and address their weight loss.
RSPCA inspector Lucy Hoehne had been visiting the address for over a year due to concerns over the dogs’ welfare.
She said: “I’d been giving advice and offering assistance and, initially, they made some improvements but then they stopped answering the door to me or letting me in.
“Eventually, when I managed to speak to them, they told me they didn’t have the dogs anymore, but I was able to establish that the dogs were actually being kept locked in a cupboard under the stairs.”
The RSPCA returned to the property in November last year and Bisto and Mogo were found to be in an awful, emaciated condition and were taken to a vet.
“Bisto was severely emaciated, weighing just 18.1kg and with a body condition score of one out of five,” inspector Hoehne explained.
“I’d expect an adult male mastiff to weigh around 30kg and, while Bisto seems to be a crossbreed, he was severely underweight, malnourished and starving. He was heavily soiled, stank, had pressure sores and an old fracture injury to his tail.
“Mogo weighed just 7.8kg and had a body condition score of 1.5 out of five. She was also heavily soiled and smelt strongly of ammonia, and was suffering from inflamed eyes.
“Their owners said they couldn’t afford to feed them properly and were too ashamed to take them to a vet. This is a clear example of prolonged neglect and by the time we were able to remove the dogs they were skeletal.”
Both dogs were signed over into RSPCA care and rehomed.