THOUSANDS of people have signed a petition calling for a dog owner who starved his lurcher to death to be jailed.

Campaigners who are angry at David Lowe’s treatment of his lurcher, Fly, will travel to Bolton Magistrates Court to hold a peaceful protest on April 30.

The 33-year-old is due to be sentenced at Bolton Magistrates Court on that date for a catalogue of animal cruelty charges, of which he was convicted in his absence.

Fly, his 15-year-old lurcher dog, had to be put down after a vet described the cruelty as one of the worst he had encountered.

Lorraine Edwards, who runs Lozza’s Lurcher Rescue Centre in Hertfortshire, said: “This is a particularly harrowing case because of the all the features and the starvation — there’s just no need to let a dog starve.

"This case has really pulled on the heart strings of people. We feel very passionately about it because the courts are so lenient.

“Because Fly is no longer around we have to make a stand for her by being the voice for her to let the magistrates know this case is totally unacceptable when there’s so many people who can help. It’s disgusting.”

The dog was severely emaciated, had discharge coming from a sinus just below its eye, an abscess in its mouth, overgrown nails and had severe and advanced dental disease.

A petition with nearly 17,000 signatures calling for Lowe, of Trentham Avenue, Farnworth, to be jailed has been handed to staff at Bolton Magistrates Court.

Lurcher owners are expected to protest peacefully outside the court and have also written to the court expressing their views.

Bolton Magistrates Court has previously heard that Fly could have received help if action had been taken earlier.

The dog was found to weigh 8.1kg — less than half its ideal weight — and scored zero in a body condition scale where one is emaciated and five is grossly obese.