Owner of dog left to starve in Newcastle banned from keeping animals

Tyson was found covered in faeces and urine with "every bone" visible. Credit: RSPCA

A man who left his dog to starve to the point of being emaciated has been banned from keeping animals for five years.

Mark Gallagher, from Newcastle, was handed the ban after his dog Tyson was spotted looking out of an upstairs window in a poor condition.

The RSPCA was alerted to the adult crossbreed's condition and an inspector from the charity placed some sticky tape on the door.

When inspector Terri-Ann Fannon returned the next day, the tapes were still intact, suggesting nobody had opened the door since.

Tyson was found locked in an upstairs room covered in faeces and urine with a small amount of food and no water.

Tyson was just 20.6kg when he was weighed by a vet. Credit: RSPCA

In her witness statement, Ms Fannon said: "Tyson was extremely underweight with every bone visible, his head was cone shaped and sunken in, his hips and spine were all protruding - he had no muscle tone or fat at all. Once at the vets he drank insatiably and constantly wanted more". 

The court heard there was an overwhelming smell of faeces and ammonia in the house after the RSPCA requested police assistance to force entry.

Police seized Tyson and he was taken to a vet for examination, where he weighed in as 20.6kg (45.4lb) and had a body condition score of 1/9, meaning he was emaciated.

There was no medical reason found for his loss of weight, other than a lack of food. The dog drank 1.2 litres of water in around three minutes, and ate food given to him in seconds.

Gallagher, of Gladstone Street, Lemington, admitted Tyson had gone from bulky to looking "like a whippet" and said he could not afford a vet.

He admitted that he had never let Tyson out - which was clear by the state of his overgrown claws from lack of exercise.

The 33-year-old admitted causing unnecessary suffering to Tyson by failing to adequately explore the cause of the weight loss. He also admitted breach of duty to ensure the animal was provided with a suitably hygienic environment.

He was handed an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and 20 days of rehabilitation at Newcastle Crown Court on Friday 20 January 2023.

He was also banned from keeping animals and cannot apply to appeal the ban for two years.

Hayley Firman of the RSPCA's prosecutions department said: "While this man was ultimately given an eight week suspended prison sentence, it is good to see that the courts are applying the new legislation in a way it was intended, and giving crown courts an opportunity to consider punishments for those offences deemed most serious."

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