Owners of dog who was starved to the brink of death have been jailed

A Blyth couple who starved their dog to the brink of death in one of the most shocking and high-profile cases of animal cruelty seen in Northumberland have been jailed.

Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 1:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 1:06 pm
Tiggy (left) when she was rescued and (right) now fully recovered with her new owners.

Kerry Patterson, 35, and Reece Milburn, 30, both of Weardale Avenue, Blyth, appeared before North Tyneside Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.

In a prosecution brought by Northumberland County Council, they also pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the welfare of their Staffordshire Bull Terrier who also had a skin condition and mite infestation.

They were given a 12-week custodial sentence and banned from owning and keeping animals for life. They were also ordered to pay a £120 victim surcharge each.

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Enzo was also rescued from the address is now in the care of BARK and looking for a new home.

The female lurcher ‘Tiggy’ was close to death and in a horrific state when she was picked up by Northumberland County Council Animal Welfare Officers in the Cowpen area of Blyth in December 2019 following a call from a member of the public.

She was completely skin and bone and less than half the weight she should have been while also suffering from dehydration, dermatitis and skin infection with mite infestation and severe hair loss.

She was so weak she could not stand and had to be carried from the home by an animal welfare officer, who said it was the worst case he had ever come across in his long career.

Initially the couple had contacted the council to say they had taken a stray dog in that they had found abandoned in Blyth.

Photos of the emaciated dog which showed every bone in her body went viral as the council’s welfare officers tried to find out who she belonged to, sending shockwaves around the country.

After the appeal went out, numerous phone calls and emails were sent to the council saying the two defendants had owned the lurcher dog all along.

Tiggy, as she was named by welfare officers, was taken to Bark Animal Rescue Kennels in Berwick where a foster home provided her with round the clock care as she was nursed lovingly back to health, being placed on a special diet.

Such was the public interest in her story and fight for survival that a TV appearance on ITV programme This Morning followed once she was in better health.

Philip Soderquest, head of housing and public protection at Northumberland County Council, said: “Our animal welfare team work tirelessly to investigate cases of animal neglect and cruelty and bring the perpetrators to justice.

"We were absolutely determined that Tiggy’s former owners would have had their day in court and although it has taken two years, today we got the result we were after.

“Thanks to the dedication of the team at Berwick Animal Rescue Centre, Tiggy had a happy ending.

"She is a picture of health and happiness with a new home, a new life with dog companions, and even a new name.”

Another dog, a male Staffordshire bull terrier named Enzo, was also removed from the address and while he was not in the emaciated condition of Tiggy, he was also suffering from neglect and a mite infestation.

Anyone with an animal welfare concern can report it online at www.northumberland.gov.uk or by calling 0345 600 6400.