A COUPLE have been banned from keeping animals for 10 years after their dog was found to be ‘like a walking skeleton’.

The dog, a young female Weimaraner-type called Lola, was extremely emaciated - weighing just 14.5kg when she was rescued by the RSPCA. The average weight for a dog of her type would be 25-30kg.

Jennifer Jayne Plater, aged 39 and 41-year-old Michael Edward Knight, of Rutland Road, Shakerley, Tyldesley, appeared at Wigan Magistrates Court yesterday, Tuesday, after they were found guilty of two charges in absence at an earlier hearing.

They were convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to Lola by failing to investigate and address the causes of her weight loss and poor bodily condition and failing to meet her needs by failing to provide a suitable diet and fresh water between November 2 and December 14 last year.

RSPCA inspector Vicki McDonald said: “Lola was so emaciated you could see every bone in her body.

“Anyone could see that she was extremely underweight, in fact we were alerted to her plight after a shocked member of the public saw Mr Knight out with her, though he does deny this.

“She was like a walking skeleton.”

The RSPCA attended the couple’s home on December 14 and Lola was seized by police, signed over to the RSPCA and has now been happily rehomed.

The court heard that when presented with food she ‘ate ravenously’ and after less than three weeks in RSPCA care Lola’s weight had already increased to 17.5kg.

On her last weigh-in on 29 January she weighed 21.4kg, a 47.6 per cent increase in body weight.

Both Ms Plater and Mr Knight were also handed curfew orders between the hours of 9pm and 7am for 26 weeks and Ms Plater was ordered to pay £200 and Mr Knight £300 in costs.

In mitigation the court heard that Mr Knight had health problems resulting in a stay in hospital and it was during this time they had struggled with all of their commitments, including that of owning a dog.

Inspector McDonald said: “All owners are responsible for meeting the needs of their pets, the most basic of which is the provision of an adequate diet.

“This couple failed this dog terribly - she was literally starving to death. The vet report stated that Lola had suffered for around six weeks.

“They bought Lola for £100 from a stranger they met in the street. A free vet check around the same time showed she was a normal, healthy weight, so the weight loss happened in their care.

“People should always think long and hard about taking on a dog, or any animal, to ensure they can meet the commitments involved. It’s clear that didn’t happen here.”