A Middlesbrough man who failed to seek treatment for his dog who had a potato stuck in his throat and a dish cloth in his stomach has been given a suspended prison sentence and disqualified from keeping animals. 


Steven Anthony Harrison (D.O.B 12.08.85) of Central Mews, Middlesbrough appeared before Teesside Magistrates’ Court last Friday (31 January) for sentencing. Benson's stomach contents


After an earlier trial, he was convicted of two offences, one of causing unnecessary suffering and one of failing to meet the needs of the crossbreed dog, under the Animal Welfare Act.*


A member of the public alerted the animal welfare charity after the dog, named Benson, was found straying on 4 February.


RSPCA inspector Clare Wilson said: “When I first saw Benson he was skinny, lethargic and kept retching and coughing constantly. I could feel and see all of his ribs and his spine.


“It was late at night so I took him to a nearby vet surgery where staff were concerned that he had an obstruction.


“He was put onto a drip and given pain relief and medication to help with the sickness. Vets did lots of tests and x-rays showed a large obstruction in his chest cavity, behind the heart. He needed a special operation to remove it – and that’s when vets found a whole potato and dish cloth inside him.


Benson before“It was touch and go whether he’d survive the complex operation but, luckily, he pulled through.”


Inspector Wilson traced Harrison and was told that Benson had been vomiting for a number of days but no veterinary treatment was sought and he was allowed to stray around the area.


Clare said: “He was extremely poorly by the time we were able to get him the vet. He was lucky to survive.”


Harrison was sentenced to six weeks custody suspended for 12 months and ordered to do 80 hours unpaid work; disqualified from keeping all animals for seven years and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £115. He was deprived of Benson but agreed to sign him over to the RSPCA after court.

Clare said: “Poor Benson has a stricture in his oesophagus which means he will probably always need to be fed small amounts of food regularly so this incident has had a life-changing effect on him. Benson after

“He’s doing well otherwise though and is such a lovely dog that the animal centre staff who are caring for him are hopeful they will be able to find him the special home he needs and deserves when he’s ready.”

Anyone who is interested in offering an RSPCA rescue dog a new home can visit www.rspca.org.uk/findapet to find their perfect match.


*The full offences are:


  1. “That between 1st February 2019 and 5th February 2019 in the vicinity of an address on Brereton Road, Middlesbrough, you did cause unnecessary suffering to a certain animal, namely a tan crossbred dog known as Benson, by failing to investigate and address the cause of the animal’s poor bodily condition and vomiting and you knew or ought reasonably to have known that your failure to act would have that effect or be likely to do so, contrary to Section 4, Subsection 1 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006”.


  1. “That on and before 4th February 2019 in the vicinity of and address on Brereton Road, Middlesbrough, you did not take such steps as were reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that the needs of an animal namely a tan crossbred dog known as Benson for which you were responsible were met to the extent required by good practice by one or a combination of failing to provide a suitable diet, failing to adequately prevent the animal from consuming foreign bodies by failing to provide veterinary care for the animal when it was in obvious ill health, contrary to Section 9, Subsection 1 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006”.