Two Auckland dog owners have been disqualified from owning animals for five years after a starving dog was found chained in their backyard.

An SPCA inspector went to check a Panmure address in July 2022 after a call of concern.

Upon arrival, the inspector found the dog, named Saint, chained to a kennel in the backyard without access to water.

He was severely emaciated, with his skull, spine, hip and rib bones all prominent. He had pressure wounds across his body, including one on his right hip that was open and raw.

Saint was immediately taken by the inspector and treated by two veterinarians, who both determined that Saint was showing severe signs of fear, anxiety and stress with growling, bared teeth, and a tucked tail.

He was significantly underweight with clear signs of muscle loss.

The vets said his open wound and pressure sores, combined with his poor body condition, meant he would have been suffering distress and discomfort for months.

Blood tests also revealed Saint had a very high amount of strongyle eggs, and he was suffering from potentially life-threatening anaemia due to the intestinal parasites, infection, and dietary deficiency.

The female defendant told SPCA inspectors that she thought Saint was skinny but “didn’t think anything was wrong with him”. She noted he had stopped eating the biscuits she had always fed him.

The male defendant, who was Saint’s owner, admitted the dog’s condition was “pretty shocking” but did nothing about it.

The pair voluntarily surrendered Saint and another dog they owned to SPCA.

Both defendants pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to alleviate any unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress being suffered by the animal at the Auckland District Court.

As well as being disqualified from ownership of animals, the man and woman were also respectively sentenced to periods of supervision and intensive supervision.

SPCA chief executive Todd Westwood said it was appalling the owners knew Saint was suffering but took no action to help him.

“The level of neglect that Saint experienced at the hands of his carers is absolutely shocking, and he simply deserved better,” he said.

“I struggle to imagine the pain and hopelessness this innocent animal felt as he suffered for months.”

SPCA said it was advocating for a change in legislation that would strengthen its powers when dealing with dogs who were life-chained.

“We really hope to see some progress from the government soon, so we can step in to help other chained dogs before they reach this state of neglect,” Westwood said.