Three dogs who were neglected so badly that they could not see or walk have all been re-homed with loving families in time for Christmas.
The three shih-tzus had to be rescued from squalid conditions which left their coats so overgrown and matted with food and faeces that they could not see properly and had to drag their back legs when they tried to move around.
Lacy, Molly and Angus, who are now healthy, have each gone to new homes after it was estimated that they had been neglected for at least six months.
Diane Dixon works at Frankham Fell Farm boarding kennels in Fourstones, Northumberland, where the three shih-tzus were housed after they were rescued by the RSPCA.
Despite having no intention of getting a dog, after getting to know Lacy, who is believed to be four-years-old, Diane decided she just had to give her a new home.
Diane, 56, from Newborough, Northumberland, said: 'I lost my German Shepherd last year and didn't think I was ready to replace him but when I met Lacy, I realised there was a big hole in my life.
'All three of them have been shaved after their fur was so drastically matted and they were very nervous.
'But it didn't take long [for them] to trust people again and we gave them lots of love and care. 'They hadn't seen anything for years and they had to get used to going for a walk.
'Lacy is brilliant. I take her to work with me every day now and she just runs around the place, she's such a happy dog now and she's getting much more used to people.
'Her hair has grown back to a normal length now and she is so beautiful. Her temperament is just lovely, you would understand her being aggressive now and again, but I've never seen a side to her at all.'
Lacy, Molly and Angus were saved after neighbours complained about an 'incredible odour' outside the property.
RSPCA officers found the animals living in 'quite disgusting' conditions, which left one inspector 'gagging' because of the stench.
A specialist dog groomer removed huge amounts of matted fur from the shih-tzus, who struggled to walk due to the weight of their overgrown coats.
The groomer said the dogs' coats were in the worst condition of any he had ever seen.
Molly, believed to be around five years old, was adopted by Kay and David Cooke from Hexham, Northumberland.
The couple were looking for another dog as company for their border terrier, Oscar.
Kay, 49, said: 'We saw an advert for Molly and I fell in love with her straight away. She was adorable.
'We wanted a friend for Oscar and so decided to meet Molly to see if the pair of them would get on.
'We knew that we would like a rescue dog as we wanted to give a dog who really needed to be loved, a good home.
She added: 'When we first saw Molly, we took her for a walk. She was very tense so we stopped and I picked her up.
'As soon as she was in my arms, she just melted, and that's when I knew that I was going to love her very much.
'I would like to think that was the moment she felt safe.
'When Molly first came to live with us, she had no sensory experiences. I can't imagine how it must have been for all three of them living in those conditions.
'We have had a lot of work to do with her, as it's harder to teach an older dog the basic skills you would easily drill into a puppy. But she has been worth every minute of it, and I'd like to think she is happier than she has ever been.'
Tina Bolton, 47, decided to re-home Angus, as her daughter May, 11, had always wanted a pet.
Tina, from Gosforth, Newcastle, said she was looking for a dog for May and, seeing Angus enquired about his background.
'We heard he had been living in really bad conditions, but we weren't told too many details - I think so it wouldn't have clouded our judgement of him,' she said.
'But, we found out later on how Angus and the other two dogs had been treated and it was such a shock.
'I don't know how anybody could neglect an animal like that.
'We didn't really know what we were taking on when we re-homed Angus, because we had no idea how his past might have affected his behaviour, and that's something I was of course wary of with a child in the house.
'But he has been nothing but fun. We've had no problems at all and he's just brought sheer joy into our lives'
Ms Bolton said the family has seen a big difference in Angus already.
'I don't consider myself to be a natural dog lover but Angus is adorable,' she said. 'We quite quickly came to see that he was really happy living with us and I don't think that it will ever come back to haunt us.
'He gets excited when I come home but I'm nothing compared to my daughter to him. He lives by her side, they're like soul mates.'
Ms Bolton said she felt 'humbled' to think that she and her family had given him a better life.
The shih-tzus' previous owner, Pauline Kinghorn, 62, appeared at Bedlington Magistrates Court in November where she admitted four charges of failing to ensure the welfare of the animals in her care.
When sentenced, she was banned from keeping animals for life and also given an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.
During proceedings, the court was told by Clive McKeag, prosecuting for the RSPCA, that it was 'a case of the most extreme neglect you are ever likely to come across', and warned magistrates that the DVD showing the animals would fill them with 'revulsion, disgust and probably anger'.
Kinghorn was also given a two-month curfew order, which involves her having to stay at home between 7pm and 7am and be electronically tagged.
She was previously banned from owning cats for five years in 2003. She admitted causing unnecessary suffering to the three shih-tzus and the German Shepherd between October last year and April this year.
Kinghorn also admitted four charges of failing to ensure the welfare of the four dogs and 12 cats in her care.
Paul Watson, defending, said in court that Kinghorn had health problems, including visual impairment caused by dense cataracts and had no-one to help her look after the animals.
He said: 'This is not a case of deliberate cruelty, but one of neglect. She didn't know where to turn for assistance.'
Kinghorn was also ordered to pay £250 towards the RSPCA costs and the magistrates ordered the transfer of all of her animals to the charity.
By: Aleksei Durakov
Tags: dogs, Christmas
Location: Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom (UK/GB) (load item map)
Marked as: featured
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