A Hamilton couple has been charged with three counts of animal cruelty after neglecting their dog to the point that it had to be put down, the SPCA says.

Back in March, a man went to the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA with a small dog that was “in serious medical distress,” according to an SPCA media release.

He said he had found the dog and wanted to hand it over to animal services, but couldn’t give details as to how he found it, the SPCA says.

The dog was taken to an emergency vet who determined it had been “suffering for a significant period of time” before it was brought in. Officials had no choice but to put the dog down, the SPCA says.

After investigating, officials found out the man was actually the dog’s owner. Two people were charged with one count of allowing an animal to be in distress and two counts of failing to comply with standards of care in the Ontario SPCA act.

“Responsible pet ownership is everyone’s responsibility,” said Vivian LaFlamme, Hamilton/Burlington SPCA. “If you are unable to provide for your animals, we encourage you to reach out to the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA and we can discuss what options are available. We are here to help so that no animal is left to suffer.”

The first court appearance for the accused is set for Friday at the John Sopinka Courthouse.