A Bradford family who caused unnecessary suffering to a Bull Mastiff called Zeus have been allowed to keep three other pet dogs by magistrates – despite RSPCA officials wanting them banned from keeping animals.

The animal charity had asked Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court to ban 45-year-old Damian Robinson, 46-year-old Diane Robinson and sons Joshua, 21, and James, 24, all of Forber Grove, Tyersal, from keeping the three remaining dogs.

That would have meant them being taken away and rehomed.

In addition to the suffering charge, the family had also all pleaded guilty to not feeding Zeus a suitable diet and not giving him a suitable place to stay.

They were today each given a conditional discharge for two years and each told to pay £400 costs and a £15 surcharge.

The court heard the RSPCA had been alerted to Zeus’s plight after receiving two calls from the public.

An RSPCA inspector went to the Robinsons’ home in July last year, finding three other dogs there who were all fine, although Zeus was extremely underweight.

Police had to be called during the visit because the inspector was threatened and there was an attempt to release Zeus off down the street, said Nigel Monaghan, prosecuting for the RSPCA.

The Robinsons had six children altogether, he said, and none of the adults in the family had work, admitting to the inspector it was a struggle to keep the dogs because of the lack of money.

Zeus lived outside the back door, his kennel had no bedding, the area was flooded by a running hosepipe and there were dried-up faeces around the yard and on the grass.

He was signed over to the RSPCA by Joshua Robinson. Three months later, the dog had put on more than 14 kilograms, said Mr Monaghan, adding it had a happy ending.

Keith Blackwell, defending Damian Robinson, said: “Mr Robinson is not working, all the family are on benefits. There's some child tax credits, there are rent and council tax arrears and they failed to renew their TV licence and so were fined for that.

"It's clear the family don't have a great deal of money but that's no reason to deprive them of the company of their three other dogs – that would be denying the poor of this country the right to keep dogs.”

Chairman of the bench Katrina Denison told the Robinsons: “I'm trusting you to keep an eye on the other dogs. Given none of you are working, maybe you can clean up the yard.”