A COUPLE who kept two dogs as ‘prisoners’ in ‘appalling’ conditions have been banned from keeping animals.

Karen Anderson, aged 58, and John Anderson, aged 62, of Kingsway South, kept two Staffordshire Bull Terriers locked in a small cage 22 hours a day for two years.

At Halton Magistrates Court on Thursday, District Judge Bridget Knight said: “This case is truly shocking.

“I have seen the photographs of these two dogs that were family pets kept as prisoners.

“I can’t conceive how you as human beings and dog owners could sleep night after night when you knew these two animals were suffering greatly.

“You had grandchildren visiting and I can’t bear to think of young children knowing animals were being treated in this way.

“I almost despair.”

The court heard how female dog Jet, aged 10, and male dog Tye, aged 12, were shunned by their owners.

When rescued by the RSPCA on January 20, both had damaged teeth and were covered in sores and scars from trying to escape the cage.

The broken wires were bent back into place by Mr and Mrs Anderson to keep the pets contained, concealed behind an old sofa in a dirty, disused bedroom.

Kevin Worthington, prosecuting, said both dogs were ‘emaciated with ribs, spines and skulls all visible’.

They were rarely fed while trapped, with paws stained from urine and faeces. Neither dog could walk.

The court heard how the defendants had two other dogs, both Dogue de Bordeaux, who Mrs Anderson described as her ‘babies’.

They slept in the bedroom with Mr and Mrs Anderson and were treated as part of the family. The couple also kept Barn Owls and tropical fish.

All pets have now been seized by the RSPCA.

Jonathan Conder, defending, said the dogs were separated because they started to fight.

He said: “The defendants fully accept the cage was completely inadequate accomodation for the dogs.

“That wasn’t the right way to keep them.

“The treatment of the dogs is an aborration for people who have kept pets all their lives.”

Mr and Mrs Anderson, who remained impassive as the abuse was read out, were sentenced to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for two years.

They were banned from keeping animals for 10 years. A 26 week curfew was also imposed from 7pm to 6am.

Mr Anderson, on long term sick from self-employed work as a removal man, was told to pay £600 towards a £4,000 vet bill.

Mrs Anderson, who is on benefits, will pay £520.

l EDITOR'S NOTE: Thank you for all the comments on this article and case.

To confirm, the dogs have now been rehomed.

Due to the nature of some of the comments, which were abusive and threatening, we have had to remove them and not allow any more.