Couple banned from keeping animals

PUBLISHED: 10:51 07 September 2006 | UPDATED: 22:12 28 May 2010

A MARCH couple who kept two German Shepherd dogs in appalling conditions, in a ramshackle shelter without bedding in freezing conditions, have been banned from keeping any animal for the rest of their lives. When the RSPCA turned up at the home of Tony Wa

A MARCH couple who kept two German Shepherd dogs in appalling conditions, in a ramshackle shelter without bedding in freezing conditions, have been banned from keeping any animal for the rest of their lives.

When the RSPCA turned up at the home of Tony Watkins and Barbara Harris they found the emaciated dogs in a makeshift shelter surrounded by snow -- the animals were covered in mud and faeces and their coats were sodden through to the skin.

Both pets were signed over to the RSPCA. The male dog called Dipsy was rehomed and has recovered from his ordeal, but the arthritis suffered by the female called Sky was so bad that she was put down.

Forty eight-year-old Watkins, of County Road, admitted failing to provide Dipsy and Sky with an adequate diet, suitable living conditions, or veterinary treatment between December 2 and 30 last year.

Harris, 43, of the same address, had denied those allegations but was convicted after a trial at Wisbech courthouse on Wednesday.

Prosecuting for the RSPCA, Hayley Saunders said a neighbour reported having seen the animals eat their own faeces.

When RSPCA Insp Jon Knight went to 2 County Road on December 30 there was snow on the ground, and the dogs had no shelter, bedding, food or water.

Vet Dr Nick Valley found Sky was in poor bodily condition, her stomach was empty, she had arthritis, an open wound on her flank and her coat was covered in mud and faeces.

Dipsy's stomach was also empty, he had an eye infection, puncture wounds to the side of his nose, infection in the ears and his scrotum was oozing puss.

"The living conditions were unacceptable and would have exaggerated their suffering from negligence and malnutrition," she said.

Harris told the court she had no responsibility for the dogs, because they both belonged to her partner Tony Watkins. She had no time to look after them, because she worked long hours with people suffering from learning disabilities, looked after her grandson and did the housework.

Watkins said: "The dogs were my responsibility, and my responsibility only."

Harris was ordered to pay £240 costs and Watkins must pay £100 costs.

After the trial, RSPCA Insp Knight said: "Unfortunately it was too late for one of these dogs, due to the appalling conditions they were made to live in. The RSPCA will not stand by and do nothing in the sight of such neglect, and the court today has sent out a stark warning by issuing life bans.

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