WARNING: Distressing content
A couple who starved their Lurcher pup to the brink of death in one of the worst cases of animal cruelty officers have ever seen have been jailed.
Kerry Patterson, 35, and Reece Milburn, 30, pretended they had found three-year-old Tiggy dumped by the side of a road and reported it to Northumberland County Council.
An animal welfare officer attended their home in Blyth, Northumberland, and he was so disgusted by the state of the animal he said it was the "worst case he'd seen during his 15 years in the job".
Shocking photographs of Tiggy show she had barely any fur and her ribs were jutting through her emaciated body.
She was also severely dehydrated and suffering from dermatitis and a mite infestation and was so weak she was unable to stand.
Northumberland County Council launched an appeal to find Tiggy's owners after she was found just days before Christmas in 2019 and the harrowing images went viral.
Days later the council received dozens of emails saying Tiggy actually belonged to Patterson and Milburn.
The couple admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal when they appeared at North Tyneside Magistrates Court last Thursday.
They also pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the welfare of their Staffordshire bull terrier Enzo who also had a skin condition and mite infestation.
The pair were jailed for 12 weeks, banned from owning and keeping animals for life and each ordered to pay a £120 victim surcharge.
Council spokesperson Philip Soderquest said it was “one of the most shocking and high-profile cases of animal cruelty the county has ever seen”.
He added: “Our animal welfare team work tirelessly to investigate cases of animal neglect and cruelty and bring the perpetrators to justice.
"We were absolutely determined that Tiggy’s former owners would have had their day in court and although it has taken two years, today we got the result we were after.
“Thanks to the dedication of the team at Berwick Animal Rescue Centre, Tiggy had a happy ending.
"She is a picture of health and happiness with a new home, a new life with dog companions, and even a new name.”
The couple’s other dog Enzo is still being cared for in kennels and is looking for a new home.