A SHIH-Tzu found riddled with thousands of fleas had hair that was so matted, the poor dog was physically unable to scratch himself.
The RSPCA told Grimsby Magistrates’ Court the pet was being bitten by “thousands and thousands” of fleas – with the infestation likely to have been on him for about two years.
Cops took the dog – a male named Fifi – from owners David Morris, 50, and his wife, Susan Morris, 53, of Grimsby, to the Blue Cross Animal Hospital.
They denied three offences of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog, but were convicted after a trial, reports Grimsby Live.
Their dog’s severely matted coat was clipped “from head to toe” to help ease its discomfort.
Unfortunately, Fifi was euthanased six months after being rescued, due to a suspected central nervous problem, the website added.
Mr Holt, prosecuting, told Grimsby magistrates’ a vet described Fifi as being “caused unnecessary suffering”.
He said that when the charity’s inspector visited the couple’s home on January 27 last year, an examination of the pet found that he also had a dry eye problem.
Mr Holt added: “There was clear evidence that there was suffering to this animal and it had been going on for some time.”
Fifi was a “happy little dog”
Describing Fifi as being “riddled with fleas”, he said the insects’ bites would have been painful, particularly as the dog was unable to scratch himself because of the thick, overgrown hair.
The vet said: “I have never seen a flea infection that was so bad. Fleas were visible on every part of his body.”
Apart from having fleas living around his eyes and neck, the court heard that 20 fleas escaped from just one square inch of Fifi’s skin.
According to Grimsby Live, David Morris, a nurse, rescued Fifi as a stray “off the street”.
He said that the dog had been with them for about seven years, and he believed that he had “rescued Fifi from certain death on the day I rescued him”.
Admitting he was “stupid” but “not cruel”, Morris said he felt “bereft if my dog has suffered”.
Morris told the court he had not taken the dog to the vets because he was worried they might discover that Fifi was microchipped, and the dog would be “taken back to that awful place” where he suspected he had been cruelly treated.
Susan Morris said she had bathed the animal for fleas.
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Hywel Davies, defending, said: “There were no signs of discomfort or suffering. They were not to know. Nothing there warrants a trip to the vet’s.”
The court was told that Fifi was a “happy little dog” that “didn’t seem bothered” by the flea infestation, as he “didn’t whine and didn’t scratch unduly”.
Sentencing has been adjourned for court reports.