THE owner of a dog which was found so emaciated that it had to be put to sleep has been banned from keeping animals.

Michelle Spoors admitted causing unnecessary suffering to her ten-year-old German Shepherd, Zeus, when she appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

RSPCA prosecutor, Kevin Campbell, told the court how an inspector had visited Spoors' home in July after a neighbour raised concerns about Zeus.

The inspector found Zeus in a "poor condition" with his bones protruding, overgrown nails and only "a pinch of hair on the back end".

Mr Campbell said Zeus was unsteady on his feet and the inspector noted the house had bare floorboards.

An empty bag of dried dog food and a dirty food bowl were also found.

Mr Campbell said: "The inspector describes how she takes the dog out and before she puts him in the van she takes him for a walk, because he is quite clearly suffering, and the dog passes faeces.

"It had the consistency of milky tea with what looked like chow mein and vegetables in it."

Mr Campbell said Zeus was taken to a vet to undergo tests.

He weighed just 24kg when a healthy dog of that age should have weighed 35kg.

The vet rated Zeus as four out of five on a condition scale with five being emancipated.

Tests confirmed Zeus was suffering from sever malabsorbtion, likely to have been caused from an infection in his gut. He could not be saved.

Mr Campbell said Spoors, 37, had handed Zeus over immediately and tried to rehome him previously but had been unsuccessful.

"She did not think the dog had been suffering to that extent," he said. "The whole situation was causing stress for her and she did not know what to do."

Spoors, who represented herself, told the court she was "struggling to cope with everything in life" and hardly leaves the house.

Magistrate Sarah Cardew disqualified her from keeping any animal for five years - a ban she will not be able to apply to have lifted for three years.