Brothers convicted over obese dog

A LAWYER defending two brothers convicted of causing unnecessary suffering by allowing their dog to become obese told a court the owners of overweight pets were living in fear of prosecution.

A LAWYER defending two brothers convicted of causing unnecessary suffering by allowing their dog to become obese told a court the owners of overweight pets were living in fear of prosecution.

Magistrates convicted Derek Benton, 62, and his brother David, 53, both of Fordham, near Newmarket, after the RSPCA launched a prosecution, which their lawyer said was the first of its kind.

But the bench allowed the pair to keep their pet - named Rusty - after clearing them of a second count of cruelty - a move the RSPCA described as disappointing.

Ann Marie Gregory , who specialises in animal law and was appearing before Ely magistrates for the brothers, said she wondered “where this case will stop” and questioned whether the parents of fat children would also find themselves in court.


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She said the pair, who cared for Rusty the chocolate Labrador, had done everything they could as average pet owners but the animal's health was complicated by other conditions.

They had medicated Rusty's persistent ear infection with drops and had only given it two small bowls of dried dog food a day with a bone on Saturday, which was its only treat, she said.

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The dog was given access to exercise but was probably unable to take full advantage because it was arthritic, she added.

But the animal weighed 11-and-a-half stone when RSPCA inspectors, who compared it to a “walrus”, examined it.

The animal charity spent £3,000 treating Rusty's problems, far beyond the means of the Bentons who were refused pet insurance, said Miss Gregory.

Stephen Climie prosecuting for the RSPCA, insisted the case would not set a precedent and had to be judged on the facts.

The RSPCA case, which was outlined at an earlier hearing, stated the brothers were unable to care for Rusty and had failed to seek appropriate veterinary care.

Magistrates, who cleared the pair of causing dog cruelty by failing to seek veterinary treatment for its ear problem but found them guilty of causing unnecessary suffering by allowing the animal to become too fat, imposed a conditional discharge on each brother.

They ruled the dog could be returned to the two provided it was properly cared for.

Speaking after the case, David Benton said: “I'm upset we had to go to court but I feel we have won today. We are getting our boy back that's the main thing and we are happy he has lost weight.”

The brothers were also ordered to pay £250 costs each and have now entered into negotiations with the RSPCA for Rusty's return.

After the case, RSPCA Inspector Jason Finch, said: “We are pleased the owners were found guilty but we are disappointed the dog is going back to them, however, we must respect the court's decision.”

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