Hebburn couple who left cats and dogs to starve and suffer banned from keeping animals for a decade

A couple have been banned from keeping animals for 10 years after their pet dog and two cats were found emaciated.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 4:38 pm

Melissa Marshall, 43, and her partner Terence Sutton, 51, both of Thames Road, Hebburn, were found guilty of five animal welfare offences at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on Thursday July 15.

The RSPCA said the court was told how its officers were called to the address after reports from a concerned member of the public about the welfare of eight cats and a greyhound dog which lived at the property.

RSPCA Inspector Trevor Walker was sent to the flat on a number of occasions during May 2019 but nobody appeared to be at home.

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Sheba the greyhound

On Wednesday, May 19, 2019 Marshall allowed him into the property to examine the pets.

In a statement given to the court, Inspector Walker said: “As I went up the stairs I saw an emaciated tan greyhound bitch called Sheba.

“After stroking her I realised I had blood on my hand and initially could not identify it’s source, eventually we found the injury to Sheba’s tail. It appeared to be an old injury which had reopened and started bleeding.

“Melissa Marshall advised she would authorise me to take Sheba and any other underweight cats to the vets for examination.

One of the cats

“Access to examinations was restricted but eventually permission was given to remove Sheba, and Flash and Jaspar who were all emaciated.”

Inspector Walker took the three pets to a vet who he said confirmed they were all suffering unnecessarily.

He said Sheba’s old injury to her tail continued to bleed during the examination as she wagged her tail, and the animals were ‘ravenous’.

Sheba, Jaspar and Flash were next taken to the RSPCA’s Felledge Animal Centre to be rehabilitated.

One of the cats

An independent vet who examined Sheba, aged seven, said she was in poor bodily condition with bones protruding and no body fat .

She noted the dog also had a chronic skin condition with scabbing on her skin caused by fleas and she had an old injury to her tail which was split at the end and bleeding.

Both cats, aged eight, were also found to be in poor bodily condition with bones prominent and had no body fat and a loss of muscle.

After Sheba, Flash and Jasper were seized and placed into RSPCA care the animal welfare charity continued to work with Marshall and Sutton to maintain the welfare of the other six cats which remained at their home.

Sheba the greyhound

However, after the court hearing, the district judge issued a deprivation order and said that these pets should also be placed in the care of the charity.

Inspector Walker attended the property on two occasions before he was able to seize the other cats.

Both Flash and Jasper remain at Felledge and it is now hoped they can be rehomed soon along with Sheba, who had to have her tail amputated but is recovering in foster care.

The RSPCA said homes will now also be found for the other six cats once the appeal period is over.

As well as the ban on keeping animals for 10 years Marshall and Sutton were both given 12-month community orders and they must both complete 150 hours of unpaid work each.

They were also both ordered to pay £200 costs and a £95 victim surcharge.

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