WARNING - DISTRESSING CONTENT: A couple from South Australia have been sentenced after they let a three-year-old Husky starve to death and left an older dog in extremely poor health.
Following a cruelty report, an RSPCA South Australia inspector attended a home in Adelaide's Davoren Park before making a horrifying discovery.
At the time, no one was home however the inspector noticed two Siberian Huskies when he peaked over the fence.
Tragically one was dead near the home's back door, while the other was alive but emaciated.
The inspector accessed the backyard using a side gate and the surviving dog, eight-year-old Sky, was taken to a nearby vet for treatment.
The deceased dog, named Jedi, was just three-years-old, weighing only 11kg when he died.
Dead Husky had starved 'for several days'
A post-mortem found he had died shortly before the inspector came to the home.
"The pathology report stated that the dog’s empty intestinal tract indicated he had starved for several days," the RSPCA said in a media release.
"The male defendant told the RSPCA SA inspector that he had noticed Jedi’s legs were paralysed a few days prior to the dog’s death and had thought the dog had ticks."
As for Sky, she weighed just 11.3kg when she was rescued, and RSPCA SA Chief Vet Dr Brad Ward said she was rescued "just in time".
Dr Ward estimated Sky had been starved for anywhere between two to six weeks before she was seized.
“Sky could barely stand when found and was losing layers of fur – her body was in full survival mode, desperately trying to cling to life,” RSPCA SA Chief Inspector Andrea Lewis said in a statement.
“With long-coated dogs such as these, you can’t usually tell if they’re underweight without feeling them, but with Sky the fact that she was literally starving to death was all too obvious."
After two months of a careful feeding program in the care of the RSPCA, Sky nearly doubled her body weight and she was put into foster care before finding a new home in August last year.
Owners sentenced over 'shameful' treatment of dogs
The couple who previously owned Sky and Jedi were sentenced on Friday in the Elizabeth Magistrates court after pleading guilty to two charges under the state's Animal Welfare Act.
The man, aged 26, and the woman, aged 25, were sentenced to five months and 12 days in home detention.
Magistrate Ben Sale said the seriousness of the offence warranted an immediate prison term and described the offending as "shameful behaviour".
However, he decided on home detention as the couple has three young children.
He added that he hoped the tragic outcome for Sky and Jedi was a "constant source of sadness and shame" for the couple, the RSPCA said.
The home detention order is effective immediately and in addition to it, the couple was ordered to pay $1500 each and are prohibited from owning any animals until further notice.
They will also have to comply with electronic monitoring and complete 20 hours of community service.
"You do not need to be an animal lover to feel disgust that anyone would allow any animal in their care to get into this condition," Insp Lewis said.
"Indeed, these defendants stood by and watched their other dog, Jedi – just three years old – shrink to skin and bone, before dying.
“It truly beggars belief that anyone could do that.”
Game of Thrones sees spike in Husky owners
The RSPCA said there was a similar case involving two Siberian Huskies which was finalised last June.
In that case, one of the two dogs was found emaciated and deceased.
The RSPCA said the HBO series Game of Thrones was responsible for the peak in popularity of Siberian Huskies and said some affiliated with the show publicly urged people not to acquire the breed if they don't understand their temperament and care needs.
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