A WOMAN has been given a two-year ban on keeping animals after a court ruled she caused unnecessary suffering to her dog.

Alison Chesterman, 54, was found guilty of the offence after her dog Doodles was taken away from her by the RSPCA after it was badly affected by flea bites.

Inspectors who visited Ms Chesterman’s Millom home found a large section of Doodles’ fur had fallen out after being bitten by the fleas.

His skin had also become inflamed and black as a result of the bites.

South Cumbria Magistrates’ Court heard RSPCA inspectors visited the house a number of times following an anonymous tip-off and urged Ms Chesterman to take Doodles to the vet.

Inspector Malwina Gasiorek said: “There was a very strong smell of ammonia and animal faeces in the house.”

Ms Chesterman was also said to have owned a number of cats, with nine being taken away by authorities.

Eventually, Doodles was taken to a vet by the RSPCA after inspectors found Ms Chesterman still had not acted on urgent advice to do so.

Expert witness Robert Mitchell, of Furness Veterinary Centre in Dalton, said the dog was suffering with a heart murmur, arthritis, conjunctivitis and a chronic skin condition.

Ms Chesterman, who represented herself in court, said she had tried to rehome her dog so Doodles could live away from her flea-infested home but had not found anyone to take him.

In cross examination, prosecutor Steven Marsh asked her: “Do you accept you are not suitable to be a dog owner?”

Answering, the defendant said: “I wasn’t able to keep Doodles in the right environment."

She was sentenced to a curfew keeping her at home between 7pm and 7am for the next four weeks.

She was also banned from keeping any animals for the next two years.

Ms Chesterman, of Millom’s Victoria Road, told the court: “My life would not be worth living without my cats.

“It’s the only thing that keeps me going."