- Karen and John Anderson kept dogs in squalid conditions
- Dogs found ‘emaciated with ribs, spines and skulls all visible’
- Rarely fed while trapped, with paws stained from urine and faeces
- Neither of the Staffordshire Bull Terriers could walk when they were found
- The couple were banned from keeping animals for 10 years
A couple kept two dogs locked up in a filthy cage hidden behind a sofa for 22 hours a day for two years, leaving them emaciated and unable to walk.
Karen and John Anderson kept two Staffordshire Bull Terriers in such appalling conditions, that the dogs had damaged teeth and were covered in sores and scars from trying to escape the cage.
The court heard how female dog Jet, aged 10, and male dog Tye, aged 12, were shunned by their owners.
When rescued by the RSPCA on January 20, officers found the broken wires of the cage were bent back into place by Mr and Mrs Anderson to keep the pets contained, concealed behind an old sofa in a dirty, disused bedroom.
Kevin Worthington, prosecuting, said both dogs were ‘emaciated with ribs, spines and skulls all visible’.
They were rarely fed while trapped, with paws stained from urine and faeces. Neither dog could walk.
The court heard how the defendants had two other dogs, both Dogue de Bordeaux, who Mrs Anderson described as her ‘babies’.
They slept in the bedroom with Mr and Mrs Anderson and were treated as part of the family. The couple also kept Barn Owls and tropical fish.
All pets have now been seized by the RSPCA.
Jonathan Conder, defending, told Halton Magistrates Court that the dogs were separated because they started to fight.
He said: ‘The defendants fully accept the cage was completely inadequate accommodation for the dogs.
‘That wasn’t the right way to keep them. The treatment of the dogs is an aberration for people who have kept pets all their lives.
Mr and Mrs Anderson, of Warrington, Cheshire, remained impassive as the abuse was read out and they were sentenced to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for two years.
They were banned from keeping animals for 10 years. A 26 week curfew was also imposed from 7pm to 6am.
Mr Anderson, 62, on long term sick from self-employed work as a removal man, was told to pay £600 towards a £4,000 vet bill.
Mrs Anderson, 58, who is on benefits, will pay £520.
District Judge Bridget Knight said: ‘This case is truly shocking.
‘I have seen the photographs of these two dogs that were family pets kept as prisoners.
‘I can’t conceive how you as human beings and dog owners could sleep night after night when you knew these two animals were suffering greatly.
‘You had grandchildren visiting and I can’t bear to think of young children knowing animals were being treated in this way.
‘I almost despair.’