The St Bernard called Marley was found dead in the back garden of a home in Roydon, Essex, after an RSPCA inspector was alerted.
No food in Marley's stomach - just rubbishA post mortem examination revealed she had no fat reserves and weighed just 32kg - a fifth of which was the weight of her skin.
There was no food in her stomach, indicating she had not been fed for at least 24 hours, but there were pieces of plastic or rubber where the hungry dog is thought to have been scavenging for rubbish to eat.
Suspended jail sentence and lifetime ban on keeping animals
Her owners, Nadine and Alan Lewis, pleaded guilty to a charge of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to investigate and address their pet's poor condition.
- given an 18-week prison sentence suspended for a year
- disqualified from keeping animals for life
- ordered to pay £500 each towards RSPCA legal costs.
They were sentenced at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, 3 April. They had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing.
'It was shocking - she was literally skin and bones'RSPCA Inspector Steve Reeves found Marley's emaciated body in the couple's back garden on 9 January this year. He said:
"A post mortem examination showed she had a tumour on her thyroid gland which would have caused her appetite to increase and any food she was getting not to be digested properly.
"A visit to the vets would have picked this condition up and she could have been treated. But essentially she was starving because she didn't get the right nutrition."She had pieces of plastic in her stomach where she had probably been eating any old rubbish to satisfy her hunger."
Marley suffered because owners failed to seek veterinary adviceTragically Marley's thyroid problem could have been treated with medication or surgery. But instead she is thought to have suffered for at least four weeks before her death.
In mitigation the couple said they had taken in Marley a few months earlier and she was in a poor condition but they were trying to feed her up.Inspector Reeves added:
“It was obvious that Marley was thin. Her owners had asked advice of friends and other dog owners, but they failed to ask the experts – a vet.Anyone who owns an animal has a legal responsibility to care for them, including taking them to a vet if they are ill.”