A COUPLE who neglected their dog so badly he was too weak to stand up escaped a jail term.

Stewart, 47, and Sarah Millar, 42, failed to seek medical help for 12 year-old Bichon Frise Teddy despite his jaw being broken in three places and him having an ear infection so severe he was left with a 10cm wound.

It was one of the worst cases the RSPCA has ever seen in south Essex.

RSPCA Inspector Matt Gough made an unannounced visit to Mr and Mrs Millar's home in Basildon Road, Basildon, on May 20 following reports from neighbours that a number of animals were living in dirty conditions.

Vets soon discovered Teddy was so underweight his ribs were visible, and estimated he had gone without food for up to four weeks.

They were left with no choice but to put him down.

Magistrates at Basildon Magistrates Court handed Mr Millar a 12 month community order and ordered him to complete 150 hours unpaid work, whilst his wife was sentenced to a six month community order after they pleaded guilty to six counts of causing unnecessary neglect to an animal.

The couple have also been banned from keeping animals for three years and the RSPCA were ordered to seize their four cats, two dogs and collection of exotic reptiles including corn snakes, geckos and bearded dragons.