Couple found living on waste land near Grand Hotel let their dogs starve

Two-year-old Coco, a Staffie, was found in an emaciated condition -Credit:RSPCA
Two-year-old Coco, a Staffie, was found in an emaciated condition -Credit:RSPCA

A North Yorkshire couple who neglected three dogs, starving one to death, have been banned from keeping animals for seven years.

Jake Craven, 28, of Linnaeus Street, Hull, and 25-year-old Megan Findlay of Victoria Park Avenue, Scarborough, both pleaded guilty to two offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The court heard Craven and Findlay were offered help with rehoming when the RSPCA and a housing association officer visited their flat in Victoria Avenue in Scarborough in March last year.

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Two Staffies, Coco and her puppy Tinker, and a terrier called Rex were among several dogs being kept in breach of the tenancy agreement. When the housing association officer returned to the flat a fortnight later, she was unable to get inside.

RSPCA Inspector Tom Hutton later tracked the couple down to where they were living on wasteland near the Grand Hotel in Scarborough on June 10. Findlay told the inspector they were homeless and Rex had died, so she had wrapped him in a blanket and put him inside their tent.

Inspector Hutton said in a statement presented to the court that Findlay then let the two Staffies out of the tent and he could see they were both extremely thin. Their hips and ribs were prominent and their spines were visible. Both dogs were anaemic and needed treatment in an animal hospital.

A vet who examined two-year-old Coco said the dog was emaciated with a body condition score of two out of nine. Her daughter, Tinker, a six-month-old Staffie cross scored three on the same chart.

One of the dogs, Rex, was found dead inside a tent on wasteland -Credit:RSPCA
One of the dogs, Rex, was found dead inside a tent on wasteland -Credit:RSPCA

“Both dogs were suffering due to lack of nutrition and water and were losing body condition. I estimate they would have been suffering for around a month at least to have lost that much weight,” said the vet.

A post-mortem report for Rex showed he was suffering from muscle wastage. The vet added: “He would have suffered unnecessarily as a result of inadequate nutrition and the level of muscle atrophy would have taken at least two months - the hunger alone would have been incredibly uncomfortable for him.”

In mitigation, the court was told that Findlay suffered from psychological problems, including ADHD and anxiety and depression. It was said her ownership of the dogs had been “inadequate rather than wicked”. For Craven, it was said he was now in a new relationship and he had “secondary responsibility” for the care of the dogs.

Craven was sentenced to an 18-month community order when he appeared at Scarborough Magistrates Court on April 16. He is required to complete 25 rehabilitation activity (RAR) days and he will be curfewed on an electronic tag for three months.

Findlay, who was sentenced at an earlier hearing, was placed under an 18-month community order with a requirement to complete 35 RAR days. Findlay was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £114.

Coco and Tinker have been returned to good health and will now be rehomed by the RSPCA.

Speaking after the hearing, Inspector Hutton said: “The defendants had ample time to address the weight loss of their dogs. They didn’t engage with the RSPCA’s foodbank scheme or seek the support one of our branches could have offered them if they were struggling. They rang us to tell us one of the dogs was dead and we rushed over, but it was too late by then.”

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