Page last updated at 15:02 GMT, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:02 UK

Man with overweight dog convicted

Taz before and after being taken into council kennels
Taz shed a quarter of his weight after being cared for in council kennels

A dog owner whose border collie was found to be twice its ideal weight has been found guilty of neglect.

Ronald West, of Donald Road, Brighton, was convicted in his absence after failing to appear before magistrates in the city and sentencing was adjourned.

The court heard five-year-old Taz was found to weigh 88lb (40kg), after West ignored orders to improve his diet.

Animal welfare officers who visited the 62-year-old's flat last December said they found dog faeces in every room.

West told officers the dog was overweight because it had been given too many treats by him and his friends.

'Cruel with kindness'

He said he had been unwell with flu and unable to clean the flat or walk the dog.

During the case, magistrates heard a transcript between West and council officers in which West said: "I'll put my hands up and say I'm guilty of [the dog] being overweight, but it wasn't deliberate."

"You can be cruel with kindness."

The court heard that animal welfare officers first visited the flat last year after another resident complained.

I'd rather hurt myself than hurt that dog
Ronald West

Officers advised West to clean the flat, exercise Taz, seek a vet's advice, and clip his pet's overgrown claws.

But magistrates were told West failed to improve the animal's condition and Taz became fatter.

During interviews, West told officers he was reluctant to exercise Taz outdoors after his pet had been attacked by a rottweiler.

Ex-farm worker West told officers: "I'd rather hurt myself than hurt that dog and I'd rather go without than let that dog go without."

In March, council and police officers went to the flat and Taz went into council kennels where he shed a quarter of his weight.

Chairman of the bench Robert Divine ordered a warrant to ensure West attended sentencing.

After the hearing, Brighton councillor Geoffrey Theobald said: "All dogs, but particularly border collies like Taz, need a good healthy diet and lots of exercise.

"Keeping a large dog shut indoors in a small space and overfeeding is a form of cruelty."


Animal welfare officer Sue Watson, Ronald West, and kennel owner Tony Steer react to the case

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