Couple face jail for allowing family dog to starve close to death

A COUPLE allowed their pet dog to starve almost to death at their family home before summoning help, a court heard.

An RSPCA inspector found bull terrier Rebel in a collapsed state and around half its expected bodyweight when called to the home of Louise Stokes and Shaun Stobbs in July this year. Magistrates heard there was an “overpowering smell” coming fro m the small room where Rebel had been locked in at the house on Heights Close, Bramley, Leeds.

Andrew Davidson, prosecuting, said Stobbs contacted the RSPCA claiming to be concerned because the animal had stopped eating. Inspector Sarah Mason went to the house and there was a strong smell of cannabis in the front room.

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Stobbs then took out a screwdriver which he used to open a wooden door to a utility room in the kitchen where the dog was kept.

Mr Davidson said Inspector Mason thought the animal was dead because of its skeletal condition and collapsed state. The dog should have weighed around 30kg but only weighed 15kg.

Rebel was taken into the care of the RSPCA and managed to gain weight and was able to walk again. But the animal eventually had to be put down after it was found to be a dangerous breed of dog. Stobbs, 26, was interviewed and claimed Rebel had suddenly become ill.

Stokes, 26, said they did not take Rebel to a vet because they couldn’t afford it. Stokes told officers that they should have done more to help Rebel but they did not want their three children to see what state the animal was in.

Mr Davidson said the animal’s poor condition would have been obvious for weeks, if not months, and anyone of sound mind would have been aware of it.

Stokes and Stobbs both pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. John Bachelor, mitigating, asked for sentencing to be adjourned for reports. Mr Bachelor said Stobbs and Stokes were no longer living together.

The case was adjourned until December 30.

Magistrates granted the pair unconditional bail but warned them that it was a serious case of its kind and a custodial sentence was a possibility.