A man and wife from Durham have been convicted of ten animal welfare offences following a prosecution brought by the RSPCA. 

Neil Hamilton and Elaine Patricia Hamilton both of Front Street, both pleaded guilty to five offences animal neglect, contrary to the Animal Welfare Act. The pair were sentenced at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court on Wednesday February 22.

Their six dogs were found in a "neglected, underweight state" when an RSCPA inspector was called to ther property in the October of last year.

After the animals - Lexi, Beau, Bella, Oscar, Ozzy and Megan - were given a medical check over by a vet, who confirmed the dogs "would be caused to suffer if their circumstances did not change". 

None of the six dogs had had their need for adequate nutrition, fresh clean drinking water and veterinary treatment met, and one, Ozzy, had an unhealed broken leg after owners failed to seek adequate vetinary attention after he was hit by a car.

Read more: Animal rights protestors arrested at Darlington Farmers Mart

When RSPCA inspector Lucy Green arrived at their property in October 2022 she found the dogs underweight and ill. 

In a witness statement read to court, she said: “Lexi, a tan coloured female chihuahua type dog was lean, Beau, a white crossbreed type dog was very thin - his hips, spine and ribs were easily visible.

"He was lying on a sofa before standing up and vomiting onto the floor. Bella, a black and white female lurcher type was underweight with hips, ribs and spine visible.

"Megan, a tri coloured terrier type dog, was also very thin. She was long haired but her spine, ribs and hips could easily be felt.

"Oscar, a black and white male crossbreed type dog was also underweight with his hips, ribs and spine easily visible and Ozzy a black and white male lurcher type dog was a little underweight with ribs hips and spine visible.

"While in the property Bella put her two front paws in a large empty bowl on the floor.

"Neil Hamilton went to fill the bowl with water and when he placed it on the floor Bella, Megan, Oscar and Ozzy all drank from the bowl immediately."

For more quality journalism, you can subscribe to The Northern Echo here.

The Northern Echo: Megan and Oscar are enjoying their new life, having made a full recovery. Megan and Oscar are enjoying their new life, having made a full recovery. (Image: RSPCA)

Multiple of the dogs were found to be unwell; one suffred gastronitesinal disease, causing diarrhoea and emaciation, another had a fever. 

Most shockingly, Ozzy had previously suffered a fractured front leg after being hit by a car. The RSPCA reports that Elaine Hamilton took him to a cat-only clinic, who advised her to seek veterinary treatment the following day. However she failed to do this, and Ozzy's leg never fully healed. 

The couple put forward mitigation that they had a lack of money. 

Inspector Green said: "Our plea to all animal owners is to make sure they always receive care and treatment from veterinary experts when they need it.

"If people are struggling to cover the costs, there are a number of charities which provide help for veterinary care for pet owners in genuine financial difficulties. People can also work with their vet to spread the cost of treatment."

Read more: RSPCA: 7 dogs up for adoption in Chester-le-Street and Middlesbrough

In addition to the ten-year ban from keeping all animals, which they can not appeal for five years, Neil Hamilton was fined a total of £495.  Elaine Hamilton was fined a total of £348.

The court made a deprivation order in relation to all of the dogs, transferring them into the RSPCA’s care meaning that the charity can now find them new homes.

All of the dogs will soon be made available for rehoming from the RSPCA’s Felledge Animal Centre.