Telford couple escape jail over 'skeletal' Dalmatians

They were described by vets as "emaciated" – Dalmatians that should have been loved pets but had been left to become skeletal.

Telford couple escape jail over 'skeletal' Dalmatians

Porsha and Enzo were owneed by Neil and Julie Harris, who were handed suspended prison sentences for their mistreatment of the dogs.

The couple were also fined a total of £1,000 and banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

A court was told that the dogs were found chained up in the couple's house and that neither defendant could understand why they were being investigated by the RSPCA.

RSPCA inspectors took this picture of Enzo

Neil and Julie Harris, of Leadon Close, Little Dawley, Telford had previously admitted two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

They were found guilty of a further charge of failing to ensure the welfare of an animal by magistrates in Telford on November 12.

Mr Roger Price, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said the Porsha and Enzo, were lacking muscle and body fat, with their hips and rib bones protruding.

Both dogs had chronic sores and the court was told the investigating vet thought they had been under fed and kept in poor conditions for at least four weeks.

Mr Price said that the dogs had been chained up in the couple's kitchen for most of the day and during the night as Mrs Harris, 42, who has poor vision, was worried about tripping over them.

Edward and Julie Harris at Telford Magistrates Court

The Dalmatians were discovered by an RSPCA officer who had visited the couple's home on February 19 after unproven allegations that Mr Harris, 49, was hitting his dog.

The court was told that Mr Harris referred to the animals as his dogs when police came to remove them, but later in interview claimed all questions about their well-being should be directed at his wife who was the owner.

In mitigation, Mr Marcus Kraehling-Smith said that the defendants were "a broken couple".

He said that since Mrs Harris's vision deteriorated rapidly over seven months and her husband took over as her full time carer, a "nice comfortable family life" had been transformed into one entirely dependent on benefits.

A picture of Porsha after the arrests

Mr Kraehling-Smith said that the couple had owned the dogs for between eight and 10 years and had not had any complaints about their well-being in that time.

The defendants had claimed that the dogs had been suffering from food poisoning and were being treated with homeopathic remedies.

Magistrates at Telford sentenced Julie Harris to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for one year. She was disqualified from keeping animals for 10 years and ordered to pay a £500 fine and £80 victim surcharge.

Neil Harris was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for one year. He was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, fined £500 plus a victim surcharge of £80, and banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

RSPCA inspector Nayman Dunderdale with Enzo

Speaking after the sentencing, RSPCA inspector Nayman Dunderdale said: "It's a distressing case for everybody involved to find two dogs so emaciated and tied up in the kitchen.

"It's compounded by Mr and Mrs Harris believing that there was nothing wrong with the animals."

"We're pleased and thankful to the magistrates for taking this matter seriously, as the sentence shows."

Both dogs are up for adoption at the RSPCA Gonsal Farm Animal Centre near Shrewsbury.

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