#TheList Anthony Bittlestone, born 28/12/1970, of Lilywhite Terrace, Easington Lane, Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland DH5 – banned from keeping animals after his dog was found starving.
Jack Russell Riley was described as “emaciated” and weighed just 3kg when found, which was less than half of the recommended weight for his breed. His nails were overgrown and he was also shedding fur. The floor of the kitchen where he was kept was littered faeces.
His owner Anthony Bittlestone pleaded guilty to two offences of causing unnecessary suffering and failing to ensure the dog’s welfare.
RSPCA prosecutor Stewart Haywood told the court that an inspector first visited Bittlestone’s house on September 30, 2019, but was not allowed in. He did, however, see Riley and noticed that his hips, ribs and spine were clearly visible. Inspector Haywood gave Bittlestone advice on improving the dog’s body condition.
The RSPCA paid further visits to Bittlestone’s home in October 2019 but there was no answer at the door.
After receiving no contact from Bittlestone, the RSPCA gained access to the property and found Riley in a “shocking condition”.
Mr Haywood said: “Riley was extremely thin and very lethargic. The kitchen floor was littered with faeces and the smell was described as disgusting.”
The pet was taken to a vet and examined. Blood tests were also carried out.
“Riley had a weight of 3.09kg, an emaciated body condition,” said Mr Haywood. “A dog of that type should weigh about 7kg.
“The dog was shedding fur and its nails were too long. Blood test results showed that Riley had simply been starved.”
Jason Smith, representing Bittlestone, said this happened at a time when the defendant, who worked as a milkman, was experiencing difficulties.
His partner had left him and his father had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Bittlestone found himself struggling to look after his parents and the dog as well as keeping up with his work, it was said.
Mr Smith added: “While Riley was clearly underweight, there was actually no long-term deficit at all. There was no internal damage, no veterinary or medical condition to show that Riley will be adversely affected.
“Mr Bittlestone was feeding Riley. The reality is that Riley was clearly not getting the nutritional value from the food that has been given to him.”
Sentencing: 18-month community order, 25 days of rehabilitation activities and 150 hours of unpaid work; £490 in costs. Banned from keeping animals for 10 years.