North Yorkshire couple neglected three dogs leading to one dying of starvation

Coco needed hospital treatment. Credit: RSPCA

A North Yorkshire couple who starved their three dogs have been banned from keeping animals for seven years.

Jake Craven and Megan Findlay neglected their pets, which even resulted in the death of one dog due to starvation.

The pair were offered help with rehoming when the RSPCA and a housing association officer visited their flat in Victoria Avenue, in Scarborough in March 2023.

Two Staffies, Coco and her offspring Tinker, and a terrier called Rex were among several dogs being kept in breach of the tenancy agreement.

When the housing association officer returned to the flat a fortnight later, she was unable to gain entry.

Scarborough Magistrates Court heard that on 10 June, RSPCA Inspector Tom Hutton tracked the couple down to where they were living, on wasteland near the Grand Hotel in Scarborough.

Findlay told the inspector they were homeless and Rex had died, so she had wrapped him in a blanket, and put him inside their tent. 

Inspector Hutton said in a statement presented to the court that Findlay then let the two Staffies out of the tent and he could see they were both extremely thin.

Their hips and ribs were prominent and their spines were visible. Both dogs were anaemic and needed treatment in an animal hospital.

A vet who examined two-year-old Coco said the dog was emaciated with a body condition score of 2 out of 9. Her daughter, Tinker, a six-month-old Staffie cross, scored 3 out of 9 on the same chart. 

“Both dogs were suffering due to lack of nutrition and water and were losing body condition.

"I estimate they would have been suffering for around a month at least to have lost that much weight,” said the vet.

A post-mortem report for Rex showed he was suffering from muscle wastage.

In mitigation, the court was told that Findlay suffered from psychological problems, including ADHD and anxiety and depression.

It was said her ownership of the dogs had been “inadequate rather than wicked”.

For Craven, it was said he was now in a new relationship and he had “secondary responsibility” for the care of the dogs.

Jake Craven, of Linnaeus Street, Hull, and Megan Findlay, of Victoria Park Avenue, Scarborough, both pleaded guilty to two offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. 

Craven was sentenced to an 18-month community order when he appeared at Scarborough Magistrates Court on April 16.

He is required to complete 25 rehabilitation activity (RAR) days and he will be curfewed on an electronic tag for three months.

Findlay, who was sentenced at an earlier hearing, was placed under an 18-month community order with a requirement to complete 35 RAR days.

Findlay was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £114.

Speaking after the hearing, Inspector Hutton said: “They didn’t engage with the RSPCA’s foodbank scheme or seek the support one of our branches could have offered them if they were struggling.

"They rang us to tell us one of the dogs was dead and we rushed over, but it was too late by then.”

Coco and Tinker have been returned to good health and will now be rehomed by the RSPCA.

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