A ‘hoarder’ couple starved their four dogs as they did not want them to go to the toilet in their flat.
Shuman Rashid, 49, and Suzanne Wimbledon, 42, neglected their large dogs to the extent they could barely walk.
One dog, a Great Dane called Zsa Zsa, died in March last year after she collapsed in an emaciated state.
Police and RSPCA inspectors attended her owner’s flat in Woolwich, south-east London, shortly after and found a husky-type dog called Rocky and a Staffie cross called Kiko in similarly neglected states.
RSPCA Inspector Natasha Wallis said: ‘The small flat appeared to be that of a hoarder’s property. There were multiple boxes stacked on top of one another, with little room to manoeuvre inside.
‘When I stroked Rocky along his back and sides, I could easily feel the bones along his spine, hips and rib cage indicating he was significantly underweight. He appeared wobbly and weak when walking. Kiko had little space to move inside a small cage which only contained a blanket.’
RSPCA Inspector Harriet Daliday said she was told by a vet that Rashid said he ‘did not feed his dogs the correct amount to stop them defecating inside the flat’.
Rashid gave another dog, a Neapolitan Mastiff called Kali, to another owner in January last year. Vet records showed all four dogs had been neglected.
A vet testified in court: ‘Kali was never a healthy weight from August 2018 until January 2022, when she was reportedly rehomed. While Zsa Zsa recorded the lowest possible body condition score between July 2021 up to March 2022 when she died from emaciation.’
Rashid and Wimbledon were instructed to feed the dogs more but they claimed it ‘made the dogs produce more faeces’.
The vet added: ‘They frequently went against veterinary advice and frequently missed arranged appointments to check the weights of both dogs.
‘The dogs attended all their appointments with coats on, even during the summer months, presumably to hide the fact they were severely underweight.’
The pair appeared at Thames Magistrates’ Court for sentencing on January 19.
Rashid and Wimbledon both pleaded guilty to five offences under the Animal Welfare Act.
In mitigation, the pair claimed they had done their ‘incompetent best for the four dogs’ but both have disabilities – Rashid has a back injury and Wimbledon is deaf.
The pair were handed 12-week prison sentences which were suspended for 12 months. They were also banned from keeping animals for life.
Speaking after the sentencing, Inspector Wallis said: ‘It was daily torture for these poor dogs to be kept in this flat – they were being starved in what appeared to be a hoarder’s property.
‘But not only did they physically suffer from being starved but also mentally as they had no stimulation as they were confined in a small property for days on end, which would have been extremely depressing for the dogs.
‘Since they have come into our care, Rocky has put on weight and has returned to a healthy condition. Kiko was a nervous and anxious dog, but thanks to the care and attention of staff at our animal centre he has really come out of himself.’
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