A WOMAN whose starving dogs were found just days away from death at her Wirral home has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Zoe Finlay pleaded guilty to three offences under the Animal Welfare Act - two of causing unnecessary suffering and one of failing to meet the dogs' needs - when she appeared at Wirral Magistrates court.

The 35-year-old received a 12-week prison sentence - suspended for 18 months - and was ordered to pay £615 in costs.

She was also banned from keeping animals for life.

Her pets, four-year-old mastiff Vinnie and one-year-old Dogue de Bordeaux Hugo were found by RSPCA inspector Anthony Joynes earlier this year after locals raised the alarm about their condition.

He said: "The dogs were reported to us as being abandoned in the house so I went round to see if I could see any sign of them.

"I could see through the windows that there were piles of faeces and urine puddles everywhere, and I couldn't see any food or water out for the dogs.

"I was really concerned for the dogs' welfare because they were extremely skinny so I contacted the police to request access to the property and I jumped in my van to head to a nearby veterinary surgery to ask a vet to come and see to the dogs.

"When I arrived back at the house there was a light on inside. I banged on the door and Ms Finlay answered.

"I could see Hugo, a young Dogue de Bordeaux, in the kitchen and he was extremely underweight.

"She admitted that she was struggling to cope and everything had got on top of her.

"She agreed to sign Hugo over into RSPCA care but denied any knowledge of a second dog."

When pressed, she admitted to Inspector Joynes that her second dog, four-year-old mastiff Vinnie, was in an upstairs bedroom.

"I'd caught a glimpse of Vinnie earlier through the window when I'd been trying to spot the dogs inside so I knew he was in there somewhere,” Inspector Joynes said.

Inspector Joynes rushed the dogs to a nearby vet where they were found to be severely emaciated. Hugo weighed 26.2kg and Vinnie just 21.9kg.

“They were both so skinny, you could see all of their bones,” Inspector Joynes said. “But Vinnie was my major concern. He was incredibly thin and vets said his organs had started to shut down.

“They told me that if he’d been left for a day or two longer he would have died.”

Adult male Dogue de Bordeaux and bull mastiffs typically weigh around 50kg so both dogs were significantly underweight - and Vinnie weighed less than half of what he should.

Both dogs also needed eye surgery where they’d been left with untreated entropion - a condition in which the eyelid folds inward and rubs against the eye.

Insp Joynes said: "After just five days of round-the-clock care and proper feeding at the vets, Hugo had gained more than 3kg in weight and Vinnie had gone up by almost 6kg.

"Now, both dogs have been rehomed and are enjoying their lives with their new families, safe in the knowledge that they will never go hungry again."

Inspector Joynes said: "Ms Finlay let her dogs down badly.

"She could have asked for help but she chose to do nothing.

"If it hadn’t have been for the public's concern for these dogs, we may well have been dealing with two bodies."