A man who starved his dog and left the pet outside overnight as punishment has been spared a prison sentence.

Teesside Magistrates' Court was told that Stephen Dixon left his Staffordshire Bull terrier, Meeka, "emaciated" at his home between October 29 and November 26 last year.

The 56-year-old, of Meath Street, Middlesbrough admitted three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal on Friday (26 February).

The Gazette reported that the dog was left outside for at least two days on occasions and was full of sores as he battled alcohol addiction.

John Ellwood, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA said: "The RSPCA visited his home after a complaint that his dog had been left unattended.

"Meeka was confined in a small yard full of faeces and a broken door which appeared to have broken glass on top of it. The dog was clearly emaciated and had sores on all four legs.

"When interviewed the defendant said he would punish the dog by not feeding it."

He continued: "When confronted about the dog being thin he said he was an alcoholic and knew she was skinny.

"Meeka was very hungry and when fed she ate ravenously, licking the bowl clean within seconds and was clearly very thirsty."

Defending Dixon, Paul McGee, said that Dixon was receiving treatment for alcohol addiction and had suffered from depression after the break up of his marriage.

"He has cared for animals for the vast majority of his life and has had no issues until this incident," he said.

The court was told that Meeka has since been nursed back to health and re-homed while Chair of the bench, Carole Freeman-Dunn, said at the hearing that it was a "very disturbing case."

Dixon was given a 12-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and was told that he must complete 15 rehabilitation activity days and pay £415 ($580) costs.

The defendant was also banned from keeping animals for 10 years.