A dog owner has been spared jail for failing to take her "extremely weak" dog to the vet when it began losing weight.

Sharon Howes, of Bushfield Close, Edgware, has now been banned from keeping animals for one year, and fined a total of £300.

The 53-year-old pleaded guilty to offences under the Animal Welfare Act concerning her bull terrier Buster.

She admitted causing the dog unnecessary suffering by failing to address his weight loss and taking him to a vet.

The RSPCA was called in January after receiving concerns about the nine-year-old, and found him curled up on the floor in an extremely weak state.

He was suffering from overgrown paws and Howes admitted he had not seen a vet since he was a puppy.

He was signed over to the RSPCA and taken to a vet who also discovered sores on Buster’s leg, and serious problems with his teeth and ears - and weighed 12.6kg - just over half the 22kg he should have been.

In court Howes admitted she knew Buster should have had medical attention, but that she was short of money because it was Christmas.

RSPCA inspector Natalie Bartle said: “As soon as Buster stood up I could see he was a walking skeleton - he was clearly emaciated with bones protruding from his hips, ribs and spine.

“He got up when I walked into the room, but was so weak that he quickly lay down and curled up again. It was so obvious how desperately he needed adequate food - as well as to see a vet and get help. It was so upsetting to see.

”He is such an adorable dog, really playful and affectionate and it upsets me that he has not yet found a new home. He really deserves a happy ending after the nine years of hell he suffered.”

Buster has since made a full recovery and gained weight, but is still looking for a new home.

Anyone interested in rehoming him should contact the RSPCA’s Southridge Animal Centre on 0300 123 0704.