This is the shocking state a starving lurcher was left in by a couple now banned from keeping pets.

Levi Swift, 21, and partner Bethany Greener, 29, failed to properly feed Elsie for about six weeks leaving her bones protruding through her coat.

She was so thin a member of the public rang the RSPCA saying she looked “close to death”.

The Hartlepool couple both pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the canine between October 20 and December 1, 2023, and were banned from keeping pets for 10 years.

RSPCA Inspector Claire Wilson said in a statement to Teesside Magistrates Court that she went to Hutton Avenue in Hartlepool on December 1 last year after a complaint was made from a member of the public about two dogs left outside the property without shelter or bedding. One was said to be very thin and the caller described her as being “close to death”.

The Northern Echo: How Elsie was found by inspectors. How Elsie was found by inspectors. (Image: RSPCA)

The inspector said: “It was immediately obvious that Elsie was in extremely poor body condition and emaciated. I could see all her bones protruding through her rough coat and could see her full spine, ribs, pelvic bones and shoulder bones without putting my hands on her.

“When I did stroke her bones were spiky to touch and she hardly had any muscle visible.  She also had hair loss along her spine.”

Greener told the inspector the dog belonged to her partner and they had rescued her two months earlier when she claimed she was in a “much worse condition with very little fur and struggling to stand”.

The inspector added: “She (Greener) then said that she couldn’t afford to take the dogs to a vet as she only had £5 left from benefits at the end of the month once her bills came out.”

The Northern Echo: Elsie is now recovering well.Elsie is now recovering well. (Image: RSPCA)

The couple consented for the inspector to take Elsie to a vet where she received treatment and she was later transferred to private boarding kennels used by the RSPCA.

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But an expert vet said that in their care Elsie would have been suffering for at least six weeks.

Being sentenced last month, Swift, of Cornwall Street and Greener, of Hutton Avenue, were also both fined £80. They were also told to pay charges and cover the vet fees.

Elsie will now be rehomed by the animal charity and after two weeks has put on more than 3kg in weight.