‘Ignorant’ couple starved dog and denied pet veterinary treatment

Benji the Dalmatian. Credit the RSPCA.
Benji the Dalmatian. Credit the RSPCA.
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AN ‘IGNORANT’ couple who starved their dog and failed to take him to a vet to be treated for his painful skin lesions have been banned from keeping dogs.

Matthew Burwood, 29, and his 26-year-old wife Sian claimed not to have noticed the infected sores on Benji’s legs and body, Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard.

Benji the Dalmatian. Credit the RSPCA.

Benji the Dalmatian. Credit the RSPCA.

The unemployed couple, who have three children aged seven, 18 months and four weeks, also claimed to have fed the male Dalmatian three meals a day.

But when Benji was seized by the RSPCA, he was found to be 4kg underweight, prosecutor Judith Curry said.

The pair, of Burdon Avenue, Houghton, admitted causing Benji unnecessary suffering and failing to ensure his welfare by maintaining him in an appropriate body condition.

When questioned on March 3, Matthew Burwood claimed he had found the dog five weeks earlier.

When it was pointed out to him that Benji had been microchipped since November 1 last year, he was unable to explain why.

He claimed to have taken the dog to the vet, although the surgery in question had no record of this. He also claimed he fed him three times a day and said he never noticed the sores.

Mrs Curry said Benji weighed 24kg, when the minimum weight for a dog of this type should be 28kg, with the dog gaining 2.8kg within a month when it was put on a proper diet and given antibiotics.

Ms Curry said Benji had been made to suffer unnecessarily due to his skin lesions.

She added he was found to have no underlying medical conditions.

Benji had been taken to a stray dog pound in July 2012 and records showed he had been rehomed to the Burwoods on September 25, the court heard.

James Palmer, mitigating, said both defendants have learning difficulties and it was a case of ignorance.

“Mr and Mrs Burwood understand they could be disqualified from owning dogs, or animals in general,” he said.

“They had a cat previously, but it seems to have gone missing.

“Advice was given by the RSPCA officer, but no seizure of the cat was required.”

District Judge Roger Elsey said: “This was not a case of deliberate cruelty.”

Both defendants were handed 12-month community orders with 150 hours of unpaid work.

They were banned from keeping dogs for three years and were told to each pay £100 costs and £60 victim surcharge.