SELF-confessed dog lover Stuart Harper has been banned from keeping any animals for three years after a dead terrier was found in his bin.

Harper, 30, of Ramsbury Avenue, admitted two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to Stafford-shire Bull Terriers when he appeared at Swindon Magistrates Court. Unemployed Harper was brought to the attention of Swindon Council after he was seen with a dog in poor condition.

He told a council officer the dog was a stray, and he had puit another one in his bin after it died . But it later emerged Harper had taken the dogs on three weeks earlier after seeing them mistreated.

An RSPCA investigator and council officer went to the house and found the dog, named Deja, who was less than two years old, inside the bin. They were able to ascertain it had been in a very poor condition prior to its death, and there was a quantity of blood, urine, faeces and stained bedding inside the bin with the animal.

Alison Waine, dog warden for Swindon Council, took the surviving dog, Des’ree, to the vet immediately. She had suffered multiple wounds which had become infected, including a hole in her chest 10cm deep.

“I have to say there are few dogs I have seen in 10 years which looked as bad as she did,” said Alison. “We discussed putting her out of her misery, because she was in a very bad way. But we put her on a drip before going back to the property to investigate the bin.

“The smell was indescribable, and we found the dog wrapped in a sheet. The collars on both dogs were the same, and their coats were both covered in faeces.

“He said the dogs had been in poor condition when he found them but we would have expected there to have been some improvement in their condition in that time.”

The defence for Harper said he had taken in the dogs after seeing them being mistreated and had planned to return them to health before finding them a new home. He said he didn’t take them to the vet as he thought they may have been pitbulls, which are illegal.

Harper was banned from keeping all animals for three years, sentenced to 120 hours community service, and ordered to pay £200 costs plus £60 victim surcharge.

RSPCA In spector Stephanie Daly said: “The shocking side of this was the fact he tried to hide the dog. It was deep inside the bin, and we had to dig it out of a pile of rubbish.

“We are satisfied with the outcome. We never know what the magistrates will decide, but they were fair and took into account he had entered a guilty plea. “But there are no excuses. They were in his care, and he has admitted guilt. We would have liked a longer ban, but you could envisage he will be able to sort himself out in three years’ time.”

Des’ree now has a new home and is in good health.