WARNING: Readers may find the images in this story upsetting

A PACK of 15 dogs kept cooped up in a tiny Tyldesley property resulted in the death of a dog as they fought for space.

Peter Rushworth Higgins, aged 53 and 38-year-old Ann Warren drove away with two of their dogs when RSPCA Vicki McDonald attended their Chester Road home on June 26.

She was forced to wait outside for the police to arrive while she could hear a dog inside the property being attacked by other dogs.

When the police arrived and let the officer in the dog had been fatally injured and died shortly afterwards.

Insp McDonald said: “It was extremely distressing, standing outside hearing the attack that was clearly going on and being powerless to help. A window was open so I was shouting at them to stop, but there was nothing I could do.

"The dog that was attacked was a female who was in season and should never have been in the vicinity of the unneutered males.

"Four dogs in total were injured during fights, all of them in-season females. The animals were living inside the property, which was absolutely squalid, were essentially living as a feral pack, and many of them had severe behavioural issues as a result.”

Rushworth Higgins and Warren were each sentenced to 12 weeks custody suspended for 12 months, a 12 week curfew order between the hours of 7pm and 7am, a lifetime ban on keeping any animals and ordered to pay £500 costs each after admitting four offences relating to the 15 dogs at Wigan Magistrates Court on Thursday.

They were also deprived of the dogs, which have been in RSPCA care since last June, all but one of which are now expected to be able to be rehomed.

“There were no collars or leads in the house, so these dogs obviously never went anywhere. They hadn’t been socialised at all,” said inspector McDonald.

“I’m extremely pleased that after eight months with us, staff at the RSPCA branches where they have been cared for have been able to turn so many of them around.”

Rushworth Higgins and Warren admitted:

• Causing unnecessary suffering to 14 dogs by confining them in an environment detrimental to their mental and physical well-being.

• Causing unnecessary suffering to 15 dogs by subjecting them to an exceptionally deprived social and physical upbringing resulting in them being unable to exhibit normal behaviour.

• Causing unnecessary suffering to two female tan cross breed terriers by failing to care and supervise and protect them resulting in fighting and the death of one of them.

• Failing to meet the needs of 15 dogs by failing to protect them from pain, suffering, injury and disease due to a failure to manage them, resulting in fighting injuries.