Two rescued dogs were left out in the cold and not properly fed in the back yard of a Wearside house.
Dogue de Bordeaux Ruby and Hooch had been rescued from a shelter by Alan Noble, but their new home was not a happy one, Sunderland magistrates heard.
Instead, the 33-year-old left them outside without water or shelter in wintry conditions last December, and did nothing to address Ruby’s skin and eye condition.
Judith Curry, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said an inspector first visited Noble’s then-home in Chester Road, Sunderland, on November 7, after an anonymous tip-off.
Miss Curry said: “She met Mr Noble, who refused to allow her through the property, but he did take her to the back garden, where she was shown two dogs through the fence.
“Ruby and Hooch were both in a lean condition, but appeared alert.
“The yard was in a dangerous condition, with a lot of items that pose a threat to animals”Judith Curry, prosecuting
“Mr Noble stated that he was in the process of completing a new kennel. He said the back door was always open so they could have access to the house.”
Miss Curry said the inspector came across several breaches of the Animal Welfare Act, including lack of nutrition, shelter or bedding.
She added: “The yard was in a dangerous condition, with a lot of items that pose a threat to animals.”
Mr Noble was given advice on how to rectify the problems, especially in view of the cold weather, and an RSPCA inspector returned on December 11, to find Noble was not home.
On December 20, they went back to the house, where they met Noble outside, refusing to show them the dogs.
“He stated that he had no keys to access the property and that the gates to the back garden were padlocked and the dogs were aggressive.”
Police were called and the inspector examined the dogs, who both had visible and prominent ribs, hips and spines.
“Ruby was very lethargic,” Miss Curry added. “The inspector said the animals needed to see a vet and Mr Noble signed them over to the RSPCA.”
The dogs were taken to see a vet and Hooch, who was underweight but required no treatment, was released to the care of the RSPCA on a special diet.
Ruby was hospitalised, suffering from dehydration and a skin and eye condition. They have both been rehomed.
Noble was interviewed, saying he did feed the dogs three times a day with three 15kg bags of dried dog food per week.
He said he’d taken in the rescue dogs four months prior and that his care had improved their health.
Noble, now of Trinity Street, Southwick, pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to meet the needs of Ruby and Hooch, in that they were kept in an environment that contained hazardous objects and no adequate shelter; that he failed to provide them with a suitable diet and fresh water; and that he failed to address veterinary care in respect of infections.
Chris Wilson, defending, said Noble suffers from an neurological condition.
“This was an omission rather than a deliberate act of cruelty,” he said.
“He signed over the animals to the RSPCA voluntarily.
“I think this whole incident has been a learning experience for him. He doesn’t seek to repeat that in the future.”
District Judge Roger Elsey said: “You are a man without criminal convictions.
“I take note of the mitigation and in particular the fact that this was not a case of deliberate cruelty.
“In my judgement, these dogs suffered because of the state of your health and because of the difficulties in your life last year.
“Having said that, it is clear that the conditions were obviously unsuitable for these dogs and the dogs were not properly fed. For that there has to be a punishment.”
Noble was sentenced to a 12-month community order, with a three-month curfew from 7pm to 7am.
He was told to pay £150 costs and a £60 surcharge.