A WOMAN has been banned from keeping animals for five years after the RSPCA discovered two seriously underweight dogs left in her back garden.
Basildon Magistrates Court heard Donna Hughes, 42, of Hobart Drive, Tilbury plead guilty to six counts of dog cruelty including leaving them without food and water, lack of shelter and failing to ensure the dogs’ needs were met.
Becky, a Staffordshire bull terrier and Tia, a boxer cross Staffordshire bull terrier were found by RSPCA officers in December last year seriously underweight in Hughes’ back garden.
The court heard a neighbour had rang the RSPCA to say they were concerned and the dogs were found with their ribs protruding and it appeared they had been left to sleep outside with no food, water or shelter. In mitigation, defence lawyer Gemma Price said Hughes, a single mum suffering from depression, had realised she could not look after the dogs and had given them to a friend of a friend in Grays only for them to return five days before the RSPCA were called. She added the dogs were not in that state when Hughes gave them away and she was not responsible for the state of the garden.
Prosecuting Stuart Cooper said officers also found three Jack Russells at the property and had no obvious concerns about them.
He added Hughes said she could not sort out the garden as it was “too cold for her” and “she wasn’t going to keep them anyway.”
Becky and Tia have since been rehomed and have put on weight. Mr Cooper said the two “ate ferociously” when officers fed them as they were so hungry.
Hughes was praised for pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity but magistrates, after seeing pictures of the dogs and the garden where they were kept, ordered Hughes to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work in the community as part of a 12 month community order and ordered her to pay costs of £1621.45.
Hughes was also disqualified from keeping any animal for the next five years and magistrates also ordered the seizure of the Jack Russells from her home, despite protests and tears from Hughes saying “please don’t take the dogs way, they are my kids’ dogs.”