08:16 Tuesday 26 February 2013

Cruelty ban

Written byHELEN KREFT

A 27-YEAR-OLD man has been banned from keeping animals for life after admitting owning a dog and causing its ‘emaciated and distressed’ state.

Walter Benn, formerly of Waterloo Street, Burton, blamed his lack of reading and writing skills and the fact he was jobless for not taking his female German shepherd to the vet when it developed a skin condition.

At Burton Magistrates’ Court, Benn was convicted in his absence of causing unnecessary suffering to the animal by failing to explore its skin condition, and not ensuring the dog was protected from pain and suffering, between April 2 and 16 last year.

The dog was brought to the attention of the RSPCA on April 15, when it was seen in Waterloo Street by ambulance drivers who described it as ‘emaciated and distressed’.

Closer inspection by officers revealed the dog was in an extremely poor condition and underweight. Two-thirds of its fur was missing.

John Sutcliffe, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said: “On the lower back only bare skin was visible. The defendant said he noticed the dog was losing skin and had started treating it with cream from a friend.”

On April 17, Benn was interviewed by the RSPCA and said he had ran out of cream on April 14.

When the officer asked to see the container he said he had thrown the it away, and when asked if the officer could look in the bin, he said he had taken the container to the tip.

Mr Sutcliffe said: “This story does not ring true.”

The dog was seized and taken to a vet who gave her a body scale of two out of five, where one is emaciated and five is obese. The ideal scale is three.

The prosecutor said: “The dog was clearly thin. Its rib cage was immediately visible and the hair loss was obvious. Its skin was reddened, there was pustules, spots and the skin condition.”

The vet said the skin condition was long-standing because of the thickened skin, adding that she had a musty smell and was greasy to touch.

adding that she had a musty smell and was greasy to touch.

Mr Sutcliffe said: “The dog was constantly scratching and its condition would leave it in unrelenting pain and discomfort. The vet said it had suffered for at least two months.

Wayne Hardy, defending, said: “He did not take the dog to the vet because he was struggling with reading and writing and because he wasn’t working he was fearful it would cost a substantial amount of money.

“He accepts he should have done something. This is not deliberate maltreatment.”

Benn, now of Central Avenue, Leicester, was given a 24-month conditional discharge – indicating he could be resentenced if he is charged on a similar matter.

He was disqualified from keeping any animal for life and will not be allowed to apply to keep one for five years.

No costs were imposed.

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