Morbidly obese dog "has always been overweight"

PUBLISHED: 15:38 30 November 2006 | UPDATED: 13:39 04 May 2010

Rusty has now been taken into care by the RSPCA

Rusty has now been taken into care by the RSPCA

A TRAIN driver accused of allowing his dog to grow morbidly obese yesterday told how he had tried numerous diets to bring its weight under control. Rusty, a chocolate Labrador, was taken into care by the RSPCA after a complaint from a member of the public

A TRAIN driver accused of allowing his dog to grow morbidly obese yesterday told how he had tried numerous diets to bring its weight under control.

Rusty, a chocolate Labrador, was taken into care by the RSPCA after a complaint from a member of the public earlier this year prompted a home visit to examine the dog, which was twice its recommended size.

Weighing in at 11-and-a-half stone, nine-year-old Rusty could walk only a few paces before having to stop for a rest, magistrates were told.

The dog's owners, brothers Derek, 62, and David Benton, 53, of Newport Avenue, Fordham, appeared yesterday (Wednesday) at Ely Magistrates' Court, accused of allowing their pet to become "morbidly obese".

The brothers deny causing unnecessary suffering to the animal. Speaking during the trial, train driver David Benton claimed Rusty was always overweight. "We got him as a puppy, he was plump then. We put him on dry food and he seemed to put his weight on," he said.

"His weight was always a problem. He had three walks a day at weekends and two during the week. I always took him for a walk around the block before I went to work - up until the last 18 months as he would not want to walk.

"We tried so many things to get his weight off. In my opinion the only way to get the weight off a dog is to run. A dog needs to run."

He said his dog's condition was made worse by the onset of arthritis, which developed early on in his life.

The magistrates heard how Rusty was left at home alone between 7.30am and 5pm during the working week.

He was given one small meal before the brothers went off to work and one after they returned home, the court was told.

Duncan Davidson, a vet from Surrey, who was called as a witness for the defence, said the dog's weight condition could be explained by a number of other medical issues the dog had. He blamed the dog's weight gain on arthritis, which prevented Rusty from getting proper exercise.

Magistrates were unable to complete the case yesterday within the two days which had been allocated and have adjourned the case until January 12 next year for the trial to conclude.

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