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CONVICTED: Was justice served?
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Thursday, Nov 22, 2007
Case Images: 1 files available
» Dea Pinto
» Christopher Atkin
A couple claimed a mountain of debt led them to neglect four dogs. The emaciated German Shepherds - one just a puppy - were found living in a garden littered with dog waste and without any adequate shelter, Cambridge magistrates heard.
The RSPCA has warned that, with the credit crunch biting, those who sink into debt should seek help before their pets suffer.
Owner Dea Pinto, 40, and her partner Christopher Atkin, 32 - who face having their home repossessed due to their financial problems - admitted charges of failing to feed or house the pets properly between November and December last year.
An inspector visited the couple's home in Shepherds Close, Cherry Hinton, in December after the RSPCA was tipped off about the dogs' condition.
The three adult dogs were found to be severely underweight, with their bones visible through matted fur. Two were taken by the RSPCA following the visit, and the court ordered the third, Storm, also be given up.
The puppy, also given over to the RSPCA last year, was half the weight of a healthy puppy. It is now fit and well and has been rehomed.
Monica Lentin, mitigating, said Pinto, with babies aged eight weeks and 15 months - as well as three other children - was left "high and dry" in dire financial difficulty by her ex-husband.
She insisted they had tried in vain to rehome the dogs before the inspector called.
She said: "They were Ms Pinto's dogs and until things became too much at home, they were well looked after.
"She had a great deal of affection for them and feels guilty that her partner has had to be involved in this case. They are both deeply ashamed and both accept responsibility."
The couple were given four month prison sentences suspended for two years, banned from keeping any animal for the next decade, and ordered to pay £1,000 each in costs.
Pinto was also tagged under electronic curfew from 7pm to 7am for the next six months, with Atkin ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid community work.
The RSPCA spokeswoman welcomed the verdict, and warned other pet owners in financial difficulty due to the credit crunch to seek advice.
She said: "It is not good enough to blame financial problems later on when there is help available. Animals should not be abandoned or left to suffer.
"We are pleased with the sentence and this reflects the condition the dogs were in.
"Those who do get into difficulties and feel they can no longer care for their pets should contact the RSPCA or another animal welfare organisation for help before the situation escalates and animals are made to suffer."