A MAN who starved a dog so badly "euthanasia was the only option" has been spared jail - but banned for life from keeping animals.
David Lowe was convicted for a raft of animal cruelty offences relating to a female lurcher called Fly, which was left resembling a "skeleton" according to a vet.
The 15-year-old dog was found severely emaciated in October last year after being in the care of Mr Lowe, aged 33, currently of no fixed abode.
Lowe, formerly of Trentham Avenue, Farnworth, was convicted in his absence of five counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal on February 24.
Today he was given a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and given a lifetime ban from owning or keeping an animal, which he will not be able to appeal against for 25 years.
Chairman of the bench Derek Tate, sitting at Bolton Magistrates Court, said the case’s main aggravating feature was that Fly had to be put down - but said Lowe clearly had mental health issues, the only mitigating circumstance the bench took into account.
Tony Stock, prosecuting, told the court how the RSPCA first found Fly on October 20 and was "immediately shocked" at how emaciated she was.
Fly was seen by vet Angus McKenzie who said she was the most "severely emaciated dog" he had seen in 30 years of practice.
According to Mr McKenzie, Fly was 12 to 15 per cent dehydrated, a level which, if exceeded, a dog is unlikely to survive.
On a scale of one to five, with one being emaciated, Fly scored zero, Mr Stock said.
Fly had severe dental disease, overgrown nails and a urine sample suggested she was diabetic, the court heard.
Fly's condition had deteriorated to what Dr MacKenzie described as "a skeleton".
Mr Stock said: "These conditions were all treatable and manageable.
"The dog could have lived a longer and healthier life if advice had been sought earlier.
“Because it did not happen it reached a stage where euthanasia was the only option."
Peter Leather, defending, told the court that Lowe had spent five weeks on a psychiatric ward in hospital.
He added that Fly was returned to Lowe only on October 11 by his ex-partner and he had previously not seen the dog since July.
Lowe knew Fly needed to see a vet but that he could not bring himself to take her as he thought she would be put down, a court heard.
Mr Leather added that a friend of Lowe’s mother was the first person alert the RSPCA because his family “realised he was not going to be able to do what was necessary”.
Protestors wearing t-shirts with Fly's picture on them filed into court to hear the sentence passed, having waited outside for much of the day.
Passing sentence, Mr Tate said: “In view of everything that has been said it would be appropriate to suspend the sentence.
“It is clear that a rehabilitative element would be more appropriate in your case.”
Lowe was also ordered to pay £1,080 costs over the next two years, and given an 18-month supervision order.
Speaking outside court, protester Lorraine Edwards, owner of Loz’s Lurcher Rescue, said: “We are disappointed that he did not get a custodial sentence.
“This is a new example of courts being lenient in animal cruelty cases.
“We will be starting a petition to show the world that we are not happy.”