A COUPLE have been banned from keeping animals for ten years after they allowed a dog to become flea-ridden and emaciated.

Teesside magistrates heard that an RSPCA inspector was sent to Redcar Road, Thornaby, on Teesside, following a report that Bonnie, a cross-bred bitch, was being mistreated.

He found the animal severely emaciated and covered in fleas.

Prosecuting for the RSPCA, Amanda Baker said: "There was a disgusting smell coming from it and it had about 500-1,000 fleas. When the vet bathed it, the water ran red with blood."

The court heard that Suzanne Mead, 22, had owned the dog since it was a puppy. When questioned by the RSPCA inspector, she said she had been aware of it having fleas two years ago. She and her partner, Paul Barman, 24, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and were given 12-month conditional discharges.

Dennis Chisman, defending, said: "This is a case of neglect rather than deliberate cruelty to an animal. Suzanne feels absolutely awful and misses the dog."