A couple from Northumberland have been banned from keeping animals for five years after inspectors from the RSPCA found their dogs in an emaciated condition.

Margaret Stanners, 48, and Kieron Cruise, 37, both of Benridge Park, Blyth, pleaded guilty to two offences of causing unnecessary suffering to their two canines, a male and a female called Buddy and Bella. They were convicted under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Stanners and Cruise appeared at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on August 15 where, as well as the disqualification from owning pets, they received an eight-week prison sentence which was suspended for 18 months.

The Northern Echo: The couple's dogs were both found to be emaciated by RSPCA inspectors.

The court heard that Stanners had told RSPCA inspector Rachael Hurst, when she called at her property on February 27 this year, that the dogs were “getting better” after having initially lost weight.

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But the inspector said in a statement the dogs had looked “incredibly thin” when they ran out from the back of the property to greet her.

The Northern Echo:

“I could see their spine, hip bones and ribs, while across their backs they had hardly any fur. Their skin was flaky and there was a malodorous smell,” inspector Hurst said in a statement to the court.

Stanners gave the inspector permission to take Buddy, who is around 10 years old, and Bella, aged eight, to see the vets.

Buddy weighed just 21.4kg (47.2lb) and a vet scored him one out of nine in a body condition rating. He had a flea infestation, an eye infection and mild anaemia.

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The Northern Echo:

Bella, who weighed 18.3kg (40.3lb), was also scored one out of nine in the same test. She had hair loss on her back and skin abrasions where she had been scratching due to fleas. 

The vet said in an expert report that both dogs had lost weight because of inflammatory bowel disease, but their weight would not have plummeted so low had they been fed an adequate diet.

Both dogs quickly gained weight in the care of the RSPCA. In two months, Buddy put on 7.7kg  (17lb)and Bella 7kg (15.4lb). 

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Cruise and Stanners were also told to pay a victim surcharge of £154 and £250 court costs.

Speaking after the sentencing, inspector Hurst said: “The defendants claimed they were feeding their dogs and didn’t know why they were losing weight. But when I found them both dogs were very thin and really feeble, while they had fleas running all over them. 

“They have both put on weight and are making progress in our care at Felledge Animal Centre, although they are not quite yet ready to be rehomed.”