A MAN whose pet lurcher became so thin it had to be put down said he did not seek veterinary help because he was afraid of losing his “long-term companion”.
John Bruce’s three-legged lurcher-type dog called Toffee was so emaciated that a court heard its “skin was clamped around the bones so that every rib was visible and various hipbones were prominent”.
Toffee also suffered from dental problems, including chronic bacterial infection of the gums and tartar on his molars and strings of blood-stained saliva could be seen hanging from its mouth.
Bruce has now been banned from keeping animals for five years, which is to be reviewed in three years.
Prosecuting, Stephen Thornton told Peterlee Magistrates’ Court: “This was a serious case of long-term neglect resulting in the necessity to euthanase a dog.”
Justices heard how Toffee was found straying in the early hours and taken to the police station.
A vet was contacted and the dog was placed in an ambulance and taken to the Stray Aid rescue kennels in Coxhoe.
Mr Thornton said fleas and flea dirt were found in the dog’s coat and he made several attempts to scratch himself, but could not do so due to having a leg missing.
He added: “Due to the severity of the infection and that the infection was secondary to very poor dental hygiene, he would have required a general anaesthetic to correct.
“However, the emaciated state of the dog prohibited the safe administration of anaesthetic and sadly as a last resort the vet recommended that the dog be euthanased.”
The court heard Bruce was traced and maintained that Toffee was well-fed and he had treated the fleas.
Bruce, 46, admitted two counts of unnecessary suffering to an animal between May 25 and July 25.
Jaxon Taylor, mitigating, said Bruce’s basis of plea was that he conceded that over six to eight weeks before Toffee’s death, the dog had rapidly lost body weight.
But he said it was “not for the want of feeding the animal” and added: “I would suspect if further tests had been taken there may have been an underlying cause, but that would not get around the fact that, having recognised Toffee had a problem he should have sought veterinary care”.
“The reason he didn’t seek veterinary care, somewhat a selfish reason, is that he loved that animal very much.
“That animal was his closest companion and he was concerned that if he had taken it to a vet, the vet would have said it should be put down.”
Chairman of the magistrates’ bench Roy Simpson fined Bruce, of Wadham Close, Peterlee, £130 and ordered him to pay £200 towards the £1,500 court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.