Woman banned from keeping animals for life after almost starving her Mastiffs to death

Vinnie before.

A woman has been banned from keeping animals for life after her starving dogs were discovered just days from death.

Zoe Finlay, 35, badly neglected four-year-old Mastiff Vinnie and one-year-old Dogue de Bordeaux Hugo at her home on the Wirral.

The dogs, which are regarded as ‘giant’ breeds, should have weighed upwards of 50kg each.

But Hugo weighed just 26.2kg and Vinnie tipped the scales at 21.9kg – with these shocking photos showing the emaciated dogs’ skeletons clearly visible.

Hugo before

They were rescued by RSPCA inspector Anthony Joynes who discovered them when he visited the house on January 3.

Inspector Joynes said: “The dogs were reported to us as being abandoned in the house so I went round to see if I could see any sign of them.

“I could see through the windows that there were piles of faeces and urine puddles everywhere, and I couldn’t see any food or water out for the dogs.

“I was really concerned for the dogs’ welfare because they were extremely skinny so I contacted the police to request access to the property and I jumped in my van to head to a nearby veterinary surgery to ask a vet to come and see to the dogs.

“When I arrived back at the house there was a light on inside. I banged on the door and Ms Finlay answered.

“I could see Hugo, a young Dogue de Bordeaux, in the kitchen and he was extremely underweight. She admitted that she was struggling to cope and everything had got on
top of her.

“She agreed to sign Hugo over into RSPCA care but denied any knowledge of a second dog.”

Hugo before.
Vinnie before.

Inspector Joynes pressed her and she finally admitted that her second dog, four-year-old mastiff Vinnie, was in an upstairs bedroom.

He said: “I’d caught a glimpse of Vinnie earlier through the window when I’d been trying to spot the dogs inside so I knew he was in there somewhere.””

The dogs were rushed to a nearby vet which confirmed Vinnie’s organs had started to shut down. Had he been left for another day he could have died.

In five days of round-the-clock care, Hugo gained 3kg, with Vinnie adding double this and they eventually have made an incredible recovery.

Both dogs have since been rehomed.

Hugo now.
Vinnie now.

Finlay, from the Wirral, pleaded guilty to three offences under the Animal Welfare Act – two of causing unnecessary suffering and one of failing to meet the dogs’ needs.

She was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, at Wirral Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday and was ordered to pay £615 in costs.

She was also disqualified from keeping animals for life.

Inspector Joynes added: “Ms Finlay let her dogs down badly. She could have asked for help but she chose to do nothing.

“If it hadn’t have been for the public’s concern for these dogs, we may well have been dealing with two bodies.”


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