Published: 00:00, 19 February 2015
| Updated: 15:07, 19 February 2015
A couple have been sentenced for neglecting two dogs, one of which eventually had to be put down.
RSPCA officer Caroline Doe said she had “never seen so many fleas on one animal” when she visited the home of Keeley Boswell and James Moore in Cromwell Close, Chatham, last July.
Medway Magistrates’ Court heard how Miss Doe found 10-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier Rizla covered in fleas and with sores from biting her legs, but otherwise in apparent good health.
Two-year-old rottweiler Bella was in a far worse state.
Underweight and suffering from fur-loss, Bella was said to be “crawling with fleas” and appeared depressed and lethargic.
Prosecutor Rebecca Foulkes said Miss Doe had initially taken only Bella to the vets, as Moore had not let her take Rizla away.
She added: “When she got to the vets in Meopham she realised how bad Bella’s flea infestation was and went back to get Rizla.”
The dogs were were taken into RSPCA care and photographs taken six weeks later showed their improvement.
Bella was brought back to health and rehomed, but Rizla was found to have an inoperable tumour and had to be put to sleep.
Boswell explained Bella already had a flea condition when she took her from a relative, weeks prior to the RSPCA’s visit.
She said she’d tried to treat the dog with flea shampoo but had not sought further veterinary treatment because the dog had a microchip registered to the previous owners and she feared she might get arrested.
Rizla, who was said to be Moore’s dog, had become infested with fleas only after Bella’s arrival.
The court heard that the couple had shown themselves previously capable of looking after Rizla.
Boswell and Moore, both 28, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Animal Welfare Act: one of failing to treat a flea infection in relation to both dogs; and a further charge of failing to investigate and treat a case of poor weight in relation to Bella.
They were both sentenced to 21 days in prison, suspended for six months, disqualified from keeping animals, and ordered to pay £580 each.
Miss Doe said: “Bella had the largest flea burden I have ever seen. She was crawling in fleas, and Rizla was not far behind.
“They were in a great deal of discomfort and their needs were just not being taken care of.”