TWO STARVING dogs survived by eating their dead sister after being abandoned in a squalid house, a court heard last month.
Owner Daniel Dearing, who left the three six-month-old Staffordshire bull terriers without food, was jailed for two months after admitting two counts of cruelty.
RSPCA officials discovered the gruesome remains of one dead Staffordshire Bull Terrier when they searched the property in Blackhall Colliery. The half-eaten remains of the female brindle called Spot were found, with teeth marks on her skull, Peterlee Magistrates Court was told.
RSPCA officers also found two other Staffordshire Terriers alive, but in an emaciated state, in the property where they had been abandoned by 21-year-old Dearing. All three animals were six months old and from the same litter. The two dogs found alive were a male brindle and white Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Tigger, weighing just 6.3kg, and a male black and white Stafford called Ganja, weighing 8.7kg. Both dogs were just over half what vets believe were their ideal weights of between 10kg and 14kg,
As well as being jailed, Dearing was banned for life from owning an animal.
The jail sentence was welcomed by the RSPCA who brought the private prosecution against Dearing.
RSPCA inspector Gary Palmer said: "This is a fantastic result. Custodial sentences for animal cruelty are rare and it shows the seriousness of this case.
"His neglect cost the life of an animal and two others had to resort to cannibalism to stay alive."
John Ellwood, prosecuting, said that during interview Dearing admitted there had been times when the dogs had gone for days without food.
He said: "The defendant said he usually fed the dogs once a day before he went to work, but on occasion they would go without food. When the animals were found they had been left unattended for 48 hours."
Bill Davison, mitigating, said Dearing, a car valeter, had become depressed and had neglected himself and not just his dogs.
He said: "There was no malicious or sadistic intent in this case. The house was in a terrible state, with no heating or hot water and he did not like spending time there."
Magistrates decided that the case was so serious only a custodial sentence was suitable.
Inspector Palmer added: "He chose to keep these dogs and he chose not to feed them. Luckily the other two dogs have recovered and have been happily rehomed. I hope this sentence sends out a warning and people will take heed of this."