#TheList Christopher Cooke, born 11/09/1985, and Toni Leigh Bailey (now Toni Allen), born 08/04/1996, previously of Church Street, Seaham SR7 7JH – allowed their three rescue dogs to become skeletal
Christopher Cooke and then partner Toni Leigh Bailey pleaded guilty to one count of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
Prosecuting, Kevin Campbell told magistrates how the pair came onto the RSPCA’s radar in January 2017 when Cooke took collapsed dog Kane to the PDSA in Gateshead.
The RSPCA were contacted and found Kane to be extremely emaciated, skeletal and unable to move or stand.
A second dog, Roxy, was standing but in a similar physical condition with her rib cage, spine and hips showing.
The following day inspectors visited Cooke and Bailey at their home address on Church Street, Seaham, and found a third dog, Boss, who was “clearly emaciated” with his bones protruding and a fourth dog, Suki, in better condition than the other pets.
Mr Campbell said inspectors, who took the animals away, found mouldy faeces in the house, items lying around which could harm the dogs, as well as a tank with dead fish in it.
Vets who assessed the dogs concluded they would “undoubtedly” have had several months without adequate nutrition.
One said: “Kane was produced at the point of death. If he hadn’t been presented then I am certain he would have died.”
The court was told both defendants claimed they had made efforts to feed the pets – with Cooke claiming to spend £200 a month on food.
A probation officer rejected Cooke’s claims he had called a vet friend who suggested giving the dogs tripe and dog biscuits.
Tom Morgan, mitigating, said the pair had a “great fondness for animals” and rescued the dogs in a bid to give them better care.
Sentencing: 12 weeks in custody suspended for 18 months; ordered to complete 300 hours of unpaid work and 10 rehabilitation days; £715 costs each. Banned from keeping animals for ten years.
Update September 2019: Toni-Leigh Bailey has married and is now known as Toni Allen. She lives in Oxford Street, South Shields NE33 4BH. Christopher Cooke now lives in Coach Road Estate, Washington NE37 2EX.