Owner jailed after Staffie found starved to death in Liverpool flat

**Warning – there are distressing images at the end of this article**

The owner of a dog who was found dead at a property in Liverpool has been jailed for 16 weeks.

Tia, a Staffordshire bull terrier, was left in a flat in Kirkdale without access to food and water. The body of the dog, who was around 13 years of age, was found in an emaciated condition by the landlord of the property, who contacted the RSPCA.

Tia’s owner had been told to take the dog to a vet on a previous visit by the animal charity because she was underweight.

Joseph Alan Smith, of Liverpool, pleaded guilty to failing to provide for Tia’s needs and he also admitted causing unnecessary suffering by not addressing the cause of her weight loss, both offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

He appeared for sentencing at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on February 16 where as well as having a custodial sentence imposed, Smith was banned from keeping animals for life.

RSPCA inspector Lisa Lupson said in a statement to the court that she went to Smith’s flat on 6 April last year (2022) after the defendant’s landlord discovered the dead dog.

The body of the brown and white canine was lying on a sofa in the lounge of the unkempt property, where empty boxes of dog food were found in the kitchen as well as empty water and feeding bowls.

“Tia’s bones were protruding from her body and maggots were swarming her face.  The smell was overpowering and it was difficult not to gag – there was faeces coming from her bottom and her nails were very overgrown,” said inspector Lupson.

When the inspector called Smith he claimed that someone should have been attending to the dog.

The RSPCA had paid a visit to Smith three months earlier when inspector Louise Showering found Tia was underweight (pictured left). Smith claimed Tia had “gone off her food”, so it was agreed that he and his partner would take the dog for a vet check at a PDSA clinic by February 4 in case there was an underlying illness.

But follow-up visits by the animal charity drew a blank with its officers unable to contact the defendant on the phone or at the property.

Animal rescue officer Katie Glenn eventually managed to get hold of Smith by phone on 22 March and he told her that a friend had taken Tia to a vets, where she was put to sleep, although he was vague about the location of the practice.

A post-mortem showed that Tia was not suffering from any disease and that her cause of death was likely to be starvation, while there were also a number of plastic pieces of food packaging in her stomach.

An expert vet’s report concluded, “Tia’s suffered as a consequence of not being provided with a suitable diet, that is suitable food and water, for a prolonged period.”

Smith will also have to pay £500 costs and a victim surcharge of £128.

**Warning – there are distressing images below**

Images: RSPCA

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