Two pet bearded dragons were left to starve by their owner - despite charity giving her advice.
Sarah Jayne Collier, 31, appeared at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court yesterday, when she pleaded guilty to three offences in breach of the Animal Welfare Act.
These included failing to provide heat, a good diet or veterinary care to her two bearded dragons, Sampson and Sasha.
Collier, of Glebe Avenue, Easington, in County Durham, was sentenced to eight weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, and banned from keeping all animals except dogs for 10 years.
RSPCA officers had previously spoke to Collier to give her advice on her exotic pets.
RSPCA Inspector Lucy Hoehne who investigated the case said: “Sadly these poor bearded dragons were suffering because they were not being given the correct food or environment to live in. They were extremely thin and were suffering from a calcium deficiency too.
“In this case we visited the owner and tried to help her and advise her on what bearded dragons need and how to look after them. Sadly the guidance we gave her was never acted upon and the health of these poor animals deteriorated badly.
“They were so thin, it was heartbreaking. What is even more upsetting is that this situation was completely avoidable.
“Unfortunately this often happens when there is a lack of understanding on the owner’s part of what these exotic animals need. They are not easy to look after and people really need to do their research before they take one on as a pet.
“Exotic pets are commonly found in pet shops nowadays too, however it is sadly often the case that they are handed over to buyers with very little to no information about how to care for them or the commitment that is involved in keeping them happy and healthy. Bearded dragons can live for up to 12 years in captivity - which a lot of people don’t realise.
“It is for this reason that the RSPCA urges potential owners to research and look into what is required in the care of their exotic pet first before taking one on so they know what is involved and how long it is likely to be for.”