A slimmer Rusty comes home
RUSTY, the 11-and-a-half stone chocolate Labrador who sparked controversy when his owners were convicted of cruelty for overfeeding him, has returned home. David and Derek Benton, of Newport Avenue, Fordham, were allowed to have the dog back from the care
RUSTY, the 11-and-a-half stone chocolate Labrador who sparked controversy when his owners were convicted of cruelty for overfeeding him, has returned home.
David and Derek Benton, of Newport Avenue, Fordham, were allowed to have the dog back from the care of the RSPCA, but were found guilty by Ely magistrates of causing unnecessary suffering to the animal and were given a conditional discharge.
Rusty returned home on Friday, but the brothers remain defiant in the face of the conviction and have criticised the RSPCA for its role in the prosecution.
Crane driver David Benton told the Standard: "There was no need to go to court - they could have told us what we needed to do to keep Rusty's weight down, but now it's cost the RSPCA £12,000 for the trial.
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"People don't pay charity money in for rubbish like this."
He said he was delighted to have Rusty back home.
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"It's taken us nine months to get him back and we were never going to give up - he couldn't wait to get through the door."
He said Rusty's condition has improved now that he is three stone lighter and that he is able to walk better than before. Rusty now gets 150mg of food in the morning and another 150 in the evening, and the brothers insist that the dog goes outside when they eat now.
"He still hears the music to Coronation Street on the television and knows it's supper time," Mr Benton said.
Responding to the criticism he and his brother have received over the treatment of the dog - including an Ely Standard website poll which found that more than 74 per cent of our visitors agreed with the court's decision - Mr Benton said: "He's had arthritis all his life and he's spent most of his time at the vets, we knew he was overweight but this was unnecessary, uncalled for and it was money wasted."
He added that he will not own a dog again, for fear of similar prosecution.
"I feel sorry for all the dog owners out there - when Rusty goes, that's my lot."
A spokesman for the RSPCA said legal costs did amount to £12,000, and that a further £3,000 was spent on the upkeep of the dog after it was taken away from its owners.
"Although the dog was given back to the owners, the court did decide to convict them because of the dog's weight.
"It is unacceptable to let a dog get that overweight - the owners were advised and were given warnings about how to look after the dog, but they did not seek treatment."
The Bentons face further action if the dog re-gains the weight it lost while in the care of the RSPCA.