Owner banned after starving dogs rescued from filthy Harrogate flat

An inspector found the dogs living in squalid conditions. Credit: RSPCA

Two brothers have been prosecuted after malnourished dogs were found living in squalor in a flat covered in excrement and full of rubbish.

A court was told that 24-year-old Robbie Nelson and his brother, Charlie, 28, kept their mastiff, Rocco, and lurcher, Smudge, so emaciated that their ribs were protruding when they were found by RSPCA inspector Tom Hutton last year at an address in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

The inspector, who was called out by police executing a search warrant over another matter, had to squeeze through the living room door to reach the dogs because of the piles of rubbish inside.

Areas of the flat were covered in faeces and the carpets were soaked in urine.

An RSPCA inspector needed to squeeze through the living room door to reach the dogs because of the large amount of clutter in the flat.

Police had to seize the dogs as Robbie Nelson refused to sign them over to the RSPCA.

They were taken to a vet for treatment and an examination showed Rocco had a body condition score of one out of nine, which is classed as a state of emaciation.

Rocco weighed just 24.3kg when he was found and he should have been 36kg

"Rocco weighed just 24.3kg and I would estimate a healthy weight would have been nearer 36kg," a veterinary surgeon said in her witness statement. 

"The lurcher (Smudge) was also very thin. He weighed 17kg and his body condition score was two out of nine," she added. "I estimate a healthy weight for him would have been 23kg."

The vet concluded that both dogs were malnourished and the "state of their accommodation had compromised their health". 

Smudge was so thin his ribs were protruding when he was found at the Harrogate flat

Robbie Nelson, of Woodfield View, Harrogate, failed to turn up to court to answer charges of neglect in relation to the dogs and was found guilty in his absence.

He was later banned from keeping dogs for five years, sentenced to a 12-month community order and ordered to pay costs and a victim surcharge of £295.

Charlie Nelson, who lived at the same address, was convicted of the same charges. He has yet to be sentenced and a warrant remains outstanding for his arrest.

Rocco is now on the road to recovery after his ordeal

Both Rocco and Smudge are making a good recovery and will be rehomed when court proceedings finish, the RSPCA said.

After the hearing, Insp Hutton said: "Both these dogs were skinny and living in awful conditions. The house was full of rubbish and dog faeces.

Smudge is still being cared for at the RSPCA

"We thank North Yorkshire Police for alerting us to the situation the dogs were in, which means we will be able to find them new homes where they are loved and cared for."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.