Several witnesses at an animal cruelty case in St. John's say the dog in question was starving to death.

Christopher Whelan of Lakeview is charged with failing to provide adequate food, water and shelter for his Rottweiler mix, Lady.

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This photo depicts Whelan's dog, Lady, as very thin. (CBC )

In court, witnesses have testified that the dog was so thin and emaciated when seized last August that her ribs and spine were visible beneath the skin.

One witness said the dog's condition broke his young son's heart. He said the seven-year-old boy couldn't stop crying.

A veterinarian testified that Lady was 15 to 20 pounds underweight, adding that the dog's body fat and some muscle had wasted away.

The vet said a dog could lose a dramatic amount of weight because of disease, or lack of nutrition. She said Lady's condition was not a result of sickness.

Defence says dog fed regularly

Meanwhile, three defence witnesses testified the dog was fed regularly, and that Whelan was good to her and his other dog.

Whelan testified Lady had been losing weight for a number of months, with most of it lost in the month before she was seized.

He said he fed the dog twice a day, and actually gave her more food than he was supposed to, in an attempt to help the dog gain weight. He said it was the same type of food she had been eating since she was a puppy.

Whelan said he didn't take the animal to the vet because he couldn't afford it. But he said he was planning to take the dog for treatment when he got paid, adding his nephew also offered to help pay the bill.

Whelan said he was devastated when Lady and his other dog were seized. He said he couldn't understand why the second dog was taken, because it was in good shape.

Lady was adopted by the SPCA, and is reportedly doing well.

The case is back in court next week.