Sunderland woman allowed dog to starve "in the presence of children"
A woman who allowed her dog to starve in the presence of her children claimed she "loves" the family pet.
The lurcher, named Margot, was described as 'emaciated' when RSPCA inspectors acted on a tip-off from a member of the public, Sunderland magistrates heard.
But the court heard owner Kayleigh Laybourne, 27, did not appear to accept she should have fed the dog, John Ellwood, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said:
Mr Ellwood said an inspector visited the home Laybourne shared with her two children after a complaint was made about her in June.
The charity made three separate visits, however Laybourne failed to respond.
Mr Ellwood said: "This case concerns a dog - Margot. She was emaciated.
"Margot was in a small, cramped utility area.
"She was extremely skinny, with prominent hips, ribs and spine. All the ridges on the spine were visible.
"She agreed to the dog being taken to a vet to be checked over.
"Margot weighed 25.3kg, she should have weighed 30kg.
"She was in poor body condition, with a poor quality coat.
"Bloods were taken which showed she had a low red cell count and other problems, either as a result of starvation or liver problems.
"On July 28, Margot returned to the vet.
"All that had happened was that she had been fed a proper diet.
"She weighed 31.4kg.
"I can safely say that Margot was suffering from emaciation from lack of food.
"Since emaciation is the lowest stage of starvation that a dog can reach before death, this case must have involved a prolonged period of suffering.
"Sadly the offence would appear to have been committed in the presence of children.
"Whilst the defendant accepts she should have taken the dog to the vet, she doesn't appear to accept that she should have fed it.
"Margot has now been fed back to full health."
Laybourne, of Londonderry Terrace, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unecessary suffering to a protected animal.
Gavin Sword, defending, said Laybourne had failed to respond to the notices because she had been away for the weekend.
He added: "It wasn't a deliberate attempt to evade responsibility. She was away.
"When the RSPCA called they found the dog had access to dry food, but she didn't have any water in her bowl. The water would have been drunk because it was a hot day.
"She was only put in the utility area while she was putting her baby down for a nap, to stop the dog getting excited.
"She placed the dog in the utility room, that wasn't a permanent measure.
"She was taking advice about the care of the dog, it would appear that advice was erroneous."
Mr Sword added that Laybourne had planned to take the dog to the PDSA the following week, when she didn't have the children.
He said: "She loves the dog. It is a family pet and she doesn't want to give it up."
The bench asked for a pre-sentence report to be prepared by the Probation Service and Laybourne will be sentenced on December 7.