A Manchester couple who admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a St Bernard, have received a life ban

After admitting causing unnecessary suffering to Neika (pictured), a five-year-old St Bernard, a Greater Manchester couple were banned for life from keeping any animals.

Stanley Raymond, 55, was sentenced to a 180-hour community punishment order and ordered to pay £500 costs. His wife Hazel, 45, was fined £750 and ordered to pay £500 costs.

Neika could barely walk and was approximately 20kg underweight when seen by RSPCA inspector Cathy Hyde. He had lost nearly all his fur and surgery was needed to hide scars caused by open sores on his face (pictured right).

Hazel and Stanley Raymond claimed they found Neika – who was also suffering from ringworm, lice infestation, eye problems and an ear infection – in a park. But after an appeal in local newspapers to track down the owners, the RSPCA received a number of calls naming the Raymonds, who live in Newlands Road, Leigh.

After a lengthy investigation the couple finally admitted that the dog, whose father Siobba Dobba, won Best In Breed at Crufts, was theirs. They paid £750 for him as a puppy.

Wigan magistrates were told that the couple, who also owned two other St Bernards, had not taken Neika to a vet for treatment because they feared they would not be able to afford the bill.

Neika was reunited with his original owner John Hibbert of Endon, Staffs, after his fur started to grow back and the RSPCA used his markings to track the breeder down.

Mr Hibbert, who paid for Neika’s “facelift”, said: “The Raymonds said they wanted to show him. I trusted they would look after him.

Neika is big and loveable and craves affection. We now give him plenty to make up for all the time when he missed out.”

After the hearing, Inspector Hyde said: “There is no excuse for cruelty to animals. The severity of this offence has been recognised by the magistrates in imposing a lifetime ban.”