Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Thursday, 19 February 2009

Woman jailed for starving animals

Marianne Stribling
Stribling said she was in debt and could not afford to feed the dogs

A woman has been jailed for allowing her two pet dogs to starve to death.

Marianne Stribling, from Barnstaple, had pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the dogs and failing to feed a pet rabbit.

The 27-year-old was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison and banned from keeping animals for life.

At North Devon Magistrates' Court Stribling she was told her actions were so serious only a custodial sentence was appropriate.

The court was told the German shepherd and collie had died in agony in Stribling's back yard. One had lost more than half its body weight.

'Death threats'

Stribling told magistrates she had credit card debts totalling between 20,000 and 30,000 and could not afford to buy food for the dogs - one of which was said to have been an unwanted gift.

A police officer who found the dogs' bodies in a shed told the court he had "gagged and retched" when he made the discovery.

A number of people protested outside the court in Barnstaple.

Stribling claimed she had been "vilified" and had received death threats.

Magistrates told her the sentence would have been doubled to six months had she not admitted the charges and shown "obvious remorse" for her actions.

The RSPCA said the charity was having to deal with more and more cases of neglect and cruelty.

"Sadly, this is not an unusual case," a spokesperson said.

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