A DOG owner’s cruelty to an animal amounted to the ‘most despicable treatment’ seen by a magistrate.

An RSPCA inspector made the grim discovery of Staffordshire bull terrier Piggles’ maggot-infested body after her owner, Richard Heys, left her unattended for more than a month.

Heys, of Talbot Street, Rishton, allowed the pet to starve to death at a house he rented.

The landlord of the home alerted the RSPCA.

Tony Stock, prosecuting, said: “The inspector attended, having received a tel-ephone call, on behalf of the landlord, that a dead dog had been found inside the property. When she entered the property, she described it as being squalid, rubbish-cluttered and dog faeces all over the place. The inspector described it as a pitiful sight.

“There was a very strong, pungent smell.” Piggles was said to have a skeletal frame and was found dead, curled up on April 18, 2012.

Attempts were made to track down Heys, but he could not be traced until Sep-tember last year.

An RSCPA inspector said Heys’ remorse and regret about leaving the dog, which he expressed when questioned, were genuine.

Bolton Magistrates’ Court heard Heys, 37, had not planned to leave the home permanently, but had been involved in a crash en-route to visit a friend in Black- burn. Peter Leather, defending, said Heys’ motorbike had been struck by a car in a hit-and-run. He was not seriously injured, but rem-ained at his friend’s home and started drinking.

Heys’ father and grand-father died in 2011, and he suffered from severe depr-ession as a result.

His actions were said to be a combination of his ill health due to the crash, his depression, and his increas- ing intake of alcohol.

Heys, who lived in Sind-sley Grove, Great Lever, Bolton, when the incident happened, works full-time and lives with his partner.

Gillian Knowles, chair-man of the bench, said: ”I have never seen such despicable treatment of an animal.”

Heys admitted causing unnecessary suffering to the dog. He was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to com- plete 200 hours of unpaid work, and pay court costs of £1,350. He was banned from owning animals for life. Ms Knowles gave him one week for his partner to rehome her two dogs.