A couple has been banned from keeping animals for five years after two dogs were found in horrific conditions.
Neal Bowden and partner Hayley Lane, appeared at Teesside Magistrates’ Court for acts of cruelty which led to one of their dogs being put to sleep. The South Bank pair pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and failing to meet the needs of the dogs.
Cross-breeds Angel and Bonnie were found in ‘dirty and unkempt’ conditions at the couple’s home on Strauss Road in August last year. An RSPCA inspector attended the property on August 24 after community concerns. Bowden originally denied owning a dog but was caught out when one appeared in the doorway.
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The court heard he then complied with the inspector admitting ‘one of the dogs is in a bad way and needs to put to sleep’ but claimed he couldn’t afford the fees.
Alex Bousfield, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said Angel was unable to stand and was in a room which smelled like urine and faeces. He said the pup had overgrown nails, was severely underweight and covered in fleas.
Angel weighed just 7.81kg but the court heard a healthy dog of her size and breed should have weighed 12kg at the lowest up to 17kg. Pictures branded by magistrates as ‘distressing’ saw her emaciated on scales at a vets practice.
The other animal, Bonnie, was found with extensive fur loss, fleas and thickened skin which Mr Bousfield said was a sign of prolonged irritation. The court heard Bonnie was constantly scratching and trying to bite herself to relieve the discomfort.
Bonnie and Angel were signed over to the RSPCA but Angel was put to sleep on veterinary advice. During inspection at Stanhope Park Veterinary Hospital, in Darlington, the vet concluded unnecessary suffering had been caused.
Simon Walker, mitigating, said the couple were struggling financially at the time of the offenses.
He said: “Part of this problem is financial difficulties and whilst this has improved the couple are still paying for the problems of the past. This is a sad and serious case and the situation on August 24 suggests the adults in the house had more or less given up. There is clear evidence they couldn’t cope with the situation and life in general.”
Mr Walker said there were no previous problems until financial difficulties coincided with mental health troubles. He told the court the pair are remorseful and the neglect came at a time when Bowden stopped taking medication for his mental health problems. He also said Lane lacked the skills to deal with the situation.
Mr Walker told the court the pair pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and have no previous convictions. He said they had lost their good names and acquired convictions in a crime which ‘incites public revulsion.’
The pair were each given an 18-week prison sentence suspended for two years. They were also banned from keeping any animals for five years.
Lane, 36 and Bowden, 37, must also pay £200 costs, a £128 victim surcharge and complete rehabilitation days. Lane was handed a community order and Bowden was given an unpaid work requirement.
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