A pregnant woman has been banned from keeping animals for life after she left her dog to die in a cupboard under the stairs when she moved out of her flat.

Natasha Ivy Jolly, 30, was sentenced on Wednesday after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to her dog, contrary to the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Blackpool Magistrates heard how Jolly, of Ribble Road, Blackpool, had left her dog to starve to death in her old flat on Grasmere Road between July 2019 and March 2020.

A neighbour who had been concerned about the smell coming from the flat found the female tan coloured terrier type dog, whose name was not known, dead and covered by a sheet.

The floor of the cupboard was covered in old dog faeces and there was no natural light or any form of appropriate bedding.

The dog was in an emaciated state with all of her bones visible and protruding.

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RSPCA Inspector Will Lamping, who led the investigation for the animal welfare charity, took the dog’s body to a veterinary surgeon to be examined, who found no evidence of underlying disease conditions and suggested she died of starvation.

The post mortem revealed that the dog’s stomach contained faeces and plastic clothing tags, suggesting that she was so hungry she was eating anything she could find.

The vet confirmed the dog would have suffered for a number of months.

The court heard how a witness who found the dog had been affected by their tragic discovery.

The witness said: “This whole incident has left me shocked and disgusted.

"I can’t imagine how this poor dog felt starving to death. I just can’t seem to get it out of my head”.

In addition to the lifetime disqualification from keeping all animals, which she cannot appeal for 10 years, magistrates sentenced Jolly to 14 weeks custody, suspended for two years, a 30-day rehabilitation activity requirement and ordered her to pay £150 costs.

Magistrates decided to suspend Jolly's sentence because of the her previous good character; a realistic prospect of rehabilitation; the fact she is pregnant and is the single parent of two other children; and because of the Covid situation and her guilty plea. 

In passing sentence, magistrates commented: “We found this case quite distressing, involving a prolonged and deliberate act resulting in a dog starved to death."

Inspector Lamping added: “This was a truly shocking case to investigate.

"It is difficult to think of the suffering that this dog went through as she laid hungry and alone in a tiny cupboard with no light until her death.

“I would urge anyone who ever finds themselves in a situation where they are struggling to feed or care for their animal, to call the RSPCA emergency line on 0300 1234 999 and we will always do our best to get help to the animal in need.”