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Bella the dog euthanised after being found covered in fleas, too weak to stand

An Auckland woman sentenced over failing to seek veterinary care for her severely unwell dog, Bella, cannot own a dog for five years.

Bella was humanely euthanized to prevent further suffering. Source: SPCA

In a statement today, the SPCA, who prosecuted the woman, said she was sentenced at the Auckland District Court yesterday to a charge of ill-treating an animal.

The woman was sentenced to six months’ supervision, disqualified from owning dogs for five years, and ordered to pay over $1200 reparations to SPCA.

The SPCA was notified in August last year about the Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross. She was reported to be in "emaciated body condition".

The owner surrendered Bella to the SPCA during its investigation.

A vet found Bella had discharge coming from her nostrils due to an untreated respiratory infection, there were abnormal lung sounds and evidence that she a had coughed up blood. She was also too weak to stand on her own, and was covered in fleas.

A second vet added that Bella was moderately dehydrated and had tartar build up on her teeth, a grade 4 heart murmur and excessively overgrown nails.

Both vets agreed that Bella had been left untreated for a long time causing her undue stress and suffering and that "it would have been obvious to any lay person", the SPCA statement said.

She had to be humanely put down.

"This case highlights the failure of an owner to take care of their dog who was suffering for many months with complicated health issues," SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen said.

"This dog had complex medical needs and was never taken to a vet to alleviate her symptoms. As a result, Bella suffered for the last months of her life.

"It is the responsibility of all pet owners to seek veterinary care for their animals if they require it."

Bella’s necropsy revealed she had significant skeletal muscle wasting and had been suffering from Cushing’s disease, as well as congestive heart failure and pneumonia.

The dog's owner said in an interview that she had noticed her gradually losing weight about six months earlier and had given her more food and de-wormed her.

She also said she noticed Bella looked “a lot worse” over the previous two months, with weight loss that was more “dramatic”.

However, the owner said she couldn't afford to take Bella to the vet even though she knew she should have.