Harrogate man banned from keeping animals after ‘malnourished’ dogs found in ‘awful’ flat

A man has been banned from keeping animals for five years after the RSPCA found an underweight mastiff and lurcher at a Harrogate flat.

By Gemma Jimmison
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 11:04 am

A charge of failing to ensure the needs of the two dogs were met was proven in absence against Robbie Nelson, 24, of Woodfield View, Harrogate, at a court hearing in December last year.

He appeared for sentencing at York Magistrates’ Court on July 26, when he was handed a 12-month community order, which requires him to complete 20 rehabilitation activity days. He also has to pay combined costs and a victim surcharge of £295.

The court was told that the mastiff, called Rocco, and the lurcher, Smudge, were so underweight their ribs were protruding when RSPCA inspector Tom Hutton attended at a flat in High Street, Harrogate, on March 18 last year.

The inspector, who was called out by police executing a search warrant in relation to another matter, needed to squeeze through the living room door to reach the dogs because of the large amount of clutter, scrap bikes and household waste that was piled up. Areas of the flat were covered in faeces and the carpets were soaked in urine.

Nelson refused to sign over the dogs to the RSPCA, so the animals were seized by 
the police.

They were taken to a vet for treatment and an examination showed Rocco had a body condition score of one out of nine, which is classed as a state 
of emaciation.

“He weighed just 24.3kg and I would estimate a healthy weight would have been nearer 36kg,” said the veterinary surgeon in her witness statement.

“The lurcher (Smudge) was also very thin. He weighed 17kg and his body condition score was two out of nine. I estimate a healthy weight for him would have been 23kg.”

The vet concluded that both dogs were malnourished and the “state of their accommodation had compromised 
their health”.

In mitigation, the court was told the defendant suffered from mental health issues and he felt his brother, Charlie Nelson, should have taken responsibility for the dogs as he was their “true owner”.

At an earlier hearing, a charge of failing to ensure the needs of the two dogs were met was also proven in absence against Charlie Nelson, 28, also of Woodfield View, Harrogate. He has yet to be sentenced and a warrant remains outstanding for his arrest.

Both Rocco and Smudge have returned to good health and remain in the care of the RSPCA. They will be rehomed when the outstanding court matter is settled.

Inspector Hutton said: “Both these dogs were skinny and living in awful conditions. The house was full of rubbish and dog faeces. We thank North Yorkshire Police for alerting us to the situation the dogs were in, which means we will be able to find them new homes where they are loved and cared for.”