A dog faced a "slow and painful death" after becoming so hungry he ate an umbrella.
Owners Rachael Pugsley, 37, of London Road, Greenhithe, and her husband Richard, appeared at Dartford magistrates court for sentencing.
They had failed to turn up for a second time at Dartford Magistrates’ Court in August and the case was put on hold while a warrant was put out for their arrest.
A dog called Paddy was so hungry that he ate an umbrella
The pair were charged with four counts of causing unnecessary suffering and not ensuring animal welfare. Both were found guilty in their absence.
At the August hearing, the court heard how on March 15, Rachael Pugsley took her black spaniel to Shrubbery vets in Northfleet.
Andrew Wiles, prosecuting, said: “The dog was seen by the nurse and the account given was that the dog had eaten part of an umbrella two days previously. It was determined that an operation would be necessary.
“The dog was emaciated and dehydrated and Mrs Pugsley was told treatment could be between £400 and £1,000. She signed a consent form and she then left the dog at the surgery saying she needed to speak to her husband and would return in 10 minutes.
“She didn’t do that. Eventually Mrs Pugsley called them back, two hours later, saying she could afford the cost of treatment and then returned saying another vet could deal with the dog cheaply.”
After Paddy was taken, staff contacted every vet in the area, all of which denied any knowledge of Paddy. The RSPCA were called.
Arriving at their home address, the RSPCA discovered Paddy, one of three dogs owned by the couple, was unable to stand and “appeared to be dying”.
The dog was taken by the RSPCA
Mr Wiles continued: “Mrs Pugsley said ‘if you think you’re taking my dog, you’re not’ and the inspector left as Mr and Mrs Pugsley became aggressive and abusive and the inspector about her safety and so called the police.
“The police arrived within 10 minutes and were admitted to the house and the dog was removed and taken to a local vet surgery at Meopham.”
Bruce McLeary at Meopham Veterinary Surgery in Wrotham Road said that without intervention, the dog would have “died a slow and painful death”, adding: “The dog was so hungry, it’s no surprise that it chose to eat an umbrella.”
He was found to weigh 9kg and Mr McLeary said it suggested the dog had been underweight for at least three weeks.
“The dog was so hungry, it’s no surprise that it chose to eat an umbrella” - vet Bruce McLeary
Luke Meyer, defending, said Rachael Pugsley was never offered voluntary euthanasia by the vets when Paddy was ill.
He said: “All their dogs had been insured but that insurance had been closed because of financial worries. Had that insurance not lapsed this would never have happened.
“He owns his own business. On a good year he gets £30,000. It’s been hard when they have three children at various ages and a grandchild as well, who rely on Mr Pugsley’s income.”
The couple are allowed to keep their other two dogs, Fred and Bella.
Paddy has now been rehomed.
Magistrate Michael Wenban said “You’re not going to have your two dogs taken away and the reason for that is that however bad it was for the original dog to be put away, we could find no evidence that the other two dogs weren't well treated, just the fact that you registered them with a vet plus the fact that you insured them.”
Mr Pugsley was ordered to pay £1,000 in costs while Mrs Pugsley was charged £60.60 and both were given 100 hours community service.