Life animal ban for Leeds couple who starved pet dog

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A COUPLE who starved their pet dog close to death at their family home have been banned from keeping animals for life.

Louise Stokes and Shaun Stobbs were given suspended prison sentences over the treatment of bull terrier Rebel at their home in Leeds.

An RSPCA inspector found bull terrier Rebel in a collapsed state and around half her expected bodyweight when called to Heights Close, Bramley, in July this year.

Magistrates heard there was an “overpowering smell” coming from the small room where Rebel had been locked in.

Andrew Davidson, prosecuting, said Stobbs contacted the RSPCA claiming to be concerned because the animal had stopped eating.

Inspector Sarah Mason went to the house and there was a strong smell of cannabis in the front room.

Stobbs took out a screwdriver which he used to open a wooden door to a utility room in the kitchen where the dog was kept.

Mr Davidson said Inspector Mason thought the animal was dead because of her skeletal condition and collapsed state. The dog should have weighed around 30kg but only weighed 15kg.

Rebel was taken into the care of the RSPCA and managed to gain weight and was able to walk again. But the animal eventually had to be put down after being found to be a dangerous breed of dog.

Stobbs, 26, was interviewed and claimed Rebel had suddenly become ill.

Stokes, who works part time as a life guard and is expecting her fourth child, said they did not take Rebel to a vet because they couldn’t afford it.

Stokes told officers that they should have done more to help Rebel but they did not want their three children to see what state the animal was in.

Mr Davidson said the animal’s poor condition would have been obvious for weeks, if not months, and anyone of sound mind would have been aware of it.

Stokes and Stobbs both pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

At the sentencing hearing at Leeds Magistrates, the couple’s lawyer Alex Boyd said they had not committed the offence out of malice.

He said: “Neither of these two defendants have the relevant skills to care for the dog. When the issue arose, rather than obtaining help like they should have done, they became embarrassed that they couldn’t deal with the situation.”

Magistrates told Stokes and Stobbs that they were equally to blame for the offence and that it was a serious case because it was long-term neglect.

They were both given a 12 week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

Stokes was ordered to attend a 30-activity requirement and Stobbs was told he must do 200 hours unpaid work.

They were both given a lifetime disqualification from owning animals.

After the case, Inspector Mason said she found the incident particularly upsetting to be involved with.

She told the YEP: “I was totally flabbergasted to see the distress she was in. It was terrible to see her not even having the strength to be able to reach her food and water bowls.

“I remember carrying her into the vets with her in my arms and being in tears. I think justice has been done for Rebel today.”