Martin and Rebecca Clifton left four dogs trapped in their house while they went on holiday
A cruel couple went away on holiday leaving their four dogs so desperate for food that one was killed and EATEN by another.
Sickened RSPCA inspectors found Rox the Rottweiler pulling at the face of a dead Staffordshire Bull Terrier when they visited the home of Martin and Rebecca Clifton, a court heard.
The walls were caked in blood and mud and the three surviving dogs were all severely malnourished and covered with cuts and bite marks.
The dead dog, called Braken, was pregnant and had been killed fighting with the other two Staffies – Tyke and Dude – that had been left free in the house, Mansfield Magistrates Court heard.
Martin and Rebecca Clifton forced the four pets to live in their own faeces as they enjoyed a break in October last year.
Emaciated Rottweiler Rox had eaten Braken out of desperation.
David Payne, prosecuting, said RSPCA inspectors were called to the house in New Houghton, Derbys, by an anonymous tip-off.
He said: “When the RSPCA entered the property the walls were splattered with blood and faeces and the base of the crate was also covered in faeces.
“The Rottweiler was pulling at the head of the dog and eating it.
“Dogs will resort to cannibalism if they are extremely hungry and this shows that they were not getting enough food.
“The owners caused the dogs to suffer by keeping them in confined spaces and by preventing them from demonstrating normal canine behaviour.”
Mr Payne added that when the surviving dogs were taken into care on October 19 last year, the Rottweiler was less than half its normal weight and the two Staffies were also severely malnourished.
The RSPCA brought a private prosecution against the couple, who admitted cruelty charges.
Mr Payne explained that the couple had been away in Skegness, Lincs., for a few days when the dogs were found.
It was heard that a neighbour had been coming in to look after the dogs, however, she had been interviewed by police and not prosecuted.
Mr Payne said that the condition of the dogs had been caused by weeks of neglect, rather than just the few days the owners had been on holiday.
A post-mortem on the dead dog confirmed that found she had been pregnant at the time of her death.
The court was told that during an interview with police, Martin Clifton said he had fed the dogs dried food twice a day, and had sought advice on the Rottweiler because she was still thin.
Defending the couple, Sarah Neale, said both had held down responsible jobs – him working as an assistant manager at a recycling centre in Nottingham, and her as a support worker for vulnerable adults.
Both admitted two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to animals, each failing to address the cause of the dogs being underweight, and confining them to an unsuitable environment.
Ms Neale added that the Cliftons had two autistic sons who would not cope if they were sent to prison.
The husband and wife walked free from court after they were both sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months.
They were also banned from keeping dogs for seven years and ordered to pay £2,000 towards prosecution costs.
Speaking after the sentencing, RSPCA investigator Mick Darling said: “I think the sentence reflects the severity of the offences.
“It was a really difficult case but it sends a clear message to people to take care of their animals and to ensure that their needs are met.”