A North East dog owner has been banned from keeping animals for five years after allowing his dog to suffer from a painful skin condition that saw the animal lose lots of fur. 

Michael Walker, 57, of Cranesville, Gateshead, has been disqualified from keeping dogs for five years after he admitted causing his dog unnecessary suffering.

Walker's dog Gizmo, a Shih Tzu/Jack Russell cross-type dog was found covered in crusty skin and scabs with large areas of his body completely devoid of fur.

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At a sentencing hearing on Wednesday, September 6, South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard how RSPCA inspector Lucy Green had made a follow-up visit to Walker’s house on January 10 this year after officers had previously advised him to clean up his pet’s living environment and get his skin seen by a vet.

“Gizmo’s nails were very overgrown and curling under his paws and over each other,” said Inspector Green.

“He had a lot of fur loss from his neck down his chin, back and legs, and his skin was crusty and scabby.

The Northern Echo: Walker's dog Gizmo, a Shih Tzu/Jack Russell cross-type dog was found covered in crusty skin and scabsWalker's dog Gizmo, a Shih Tzu/Jack Russell cross-type dog was found covered in crusty skin and scabs (Image: RSPCA)

“He was on the windowsill in one of the rooms so I could see him from outside of the house.

She added: "His skin looked significantly worse than the previous visit. I was told he had been scratching his back on some sharp metal under the bed and maybe that was why his skin was like it was. 

“I was told he had been taken to the PDSA and I was shown a bottle of almost full shampoo and a bottle of prednisolone dated November 14, 2022 with approximately ten tablets left in the bottle.

"I rang the PDSA who informed me that the only time they had seen Gizmo was on that date and the medication should have run out around Christmas.”

The Northern Echo: An examination showed he had generalised dermatitisAn examination showed he had generalised dermatitis (Image: RSPCA)

Walker agreed for Gizmo to be taken and seen by a vet, and he was transported to a practice in North Tyneside later that day by the RSPCA.

An examination showed he had generalised dermatitis, a fractured lower left canine and acute diarrhoea.

He was also given a body condition score of 2-3 out of 9, which a vet said was likely indicative of the fact he had not been given a suitable diet for at least six months. 

In his evidence to the court, the vet who examined the dog, said: “Based on my professional opinion, it is unlikely that Gizmo was provided with a suitable environment or given a suitable diet to meet his needs.

The Northern Echo: Gizmo nowGizmo now (Image: RSPCA)

"It is obvious he was given little protection from pain, suffering or disease. This suffering was avoidable.”   

The court heard that Walker told the inspector he “sometimes forgot” to give Gizmo his medication.

He stated he didn’t know what amount to give him, and as he didn’t want to overdose the dog, he hadn’t been following the vet’s advice.

He had previously told an RSPCA officer that he had been verbally told by a vet that Gizmo’s health issues may have been caused by mites or a grass allergy.

On another occasion, a veterinary appointment was cancelled as the entire household had reportedly been struck down with flu.

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As well as the five-year disqualification order on keeping dogs, magistrates also ordered Walker to pay costs of £180 and a victim surcharge of £80. 

Speaking after the case, inspector Green said: “Gizmo is a really sweet-natured little dog who has really come out of his shell in his foster home. He looks unrecognisable now, and I'm really happy that he already has a lovely new home lined up.

“This case illustrates how important it is to get timely veterinary intervention, to follow the advice you are given, and to seek help from your vet if you have concerns or your pet’s condition is not improving.”