A couple starved their four dogs to stop them from going to the toilet in their home, leaving the animals "wobbly and weak".
Shuman Rashid, 49, and Suzanne Wimbledon, 42, kept four large pooches in their flat in Woolwich, southeast London, that they neglected so badly they could barely walk.
One of the animals, a Great Dane called Zsa Zsa, collapsed on the floor and died after she became emaciated, prompting police and RSPCA inspectors to visit the home.
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RSPCA Inspector Natasha Wallis said: "The small flat appeared to be that of a hoarder’s property. There were multiple boxes stacked on top of one another, with little room to manoeuvre inside."
At the flat they found a husky-type dog called Rocky and a Staffie cross called Kiko, who also appeared to be extremely thin.
"When I stroked Rocky along his back and sides, I could easily feel the bones along his spine, hips and rib cage indicating he was significantly underweight," Wallis added.
"He appeared wobbly and weak when walking. Kiko had little space to move inside a small cage which only contained a blanket."
RSPCA Inspector Harriet Daliday said she was informed by a vet that Rashid "did not feed his dogs the correct amount to stop them defecating inside the flat", despite instructions from vets.
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Rashid had also given away another dog, a Neapolitan Mastiff called Kali, in January of last year.
Vet records revealed Kali had also been neglected.
While testifiying in court, a vet said: "Kali was never a healthy weight from August 2018 until January 2022, when she was reportedly rehomed.
"While Zsa Zsa recorded the lowest possible body condition score between July 2021 up to March 2022 when she died from emaciation."
Rashid and Wimbledon were told to feed the dogs more but refused after they claimed it "made the dogs produce more faeces."
The vet continued: "They frequently went against veterinary advice and frequently missed arranged appointments to check the weights of both dogs.
"The dogs attended all their appointments with coats on, even during the summer months, presumably to hide the fact they were severely underweight."
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Both Rashid and Wimbledon pleaded guilty to five offences under the Animal Welfare Act, appearing at Thames Magistrates' Court for sentencing on January 19.
In mitigation, the pair said they had done their "incompetent best for the four dogs" but both have disabilities – Rashid has a back injury and Wimbledon is deaf.
The pair were handed 12-week prison sentences which were suspended for 12 months. They have also been banned from keeping animals for life.
Inspector Wallis said following the sentencing that the dogs have since been taken into their care and have shown dramatic signs of improvement.
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"It was daily torture for these poor dogs to be kept in this flat – they were being starved in what appeared to be a hoarder’s property," she said.
"But not only did they physically suffer from being starved but also mentally as they had no stimulation as they were confined in a small property for days on end, which would have been extremely depressing for the dogs.
"Since they have come into our care, Rocky has put on weight and has returned to a healthy condition. Kiko was a nervous and anxious dog, but thanks to the care and attention of staff at our animal centre he has really come out of himself."
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