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Pet health

Two convicted for making pet dog obese

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: pet health, obesity, animal ethics


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(NewsTarget) A pair of brothers in England has been found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering by ignoring a vet's advice regarding their dog's diet. The court ruled that Derek Benton, 62, and David Benton, 53, fed their Labrador Rusty an improper diet, causing his weight to rise by nearly 56 pounds in two years.

"We find that Rusty was suffering and that he was overweight due to an inappropriate diet," said Bryant Watson, chairman of the bench in Ely, where the case was heard.

The case was brought to the court by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). When the RSPCA first took custody of Rusty, he was reportedly so fat at 150 pounds that he was barely able to stand. Since then, he has lost 49 pounds under RSPCA care.

The court released the Bentons without punishment and restored the dog to their care, provided that Rusty does not regain any of the lost weight.

"I'm happy because we're getting our boy back," David Benton said. "He will be going to another vet and we'll make sure he gets what he needs."

Not everyone was happy with the decision. Alex Wylie, the vet who treated Rusty when he was first brought in by the RSPCA, said that he was "devastated."

"The one thing we didn't want was for Rusty to be allowed back to the Bentons," he said.

The RSPCA also expressed disappointment that Rusty would remain in the brothers' custody. But according to the society's Jason Finch, the RSPCA will be working with the Bentons to monitor the dog's condition. "Hopefully they will adhere to the conditions set out regarding his care," he said.

Consumer advocate Mike Adams says more cases like this should be brought against the parents of children, not just pets. "Isn't it interesting that the courts are ruling it's illegal to make your dog obese, but it's perfectly okay to make your children obese by feeding them junk foods and sugary drinks? In a very real way, the legal requirements for nutrition are far lower for humans than for pets. Dog food is consistently more nutritious than processed kids' foods."

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