Intent is one thing. Health is another. Intent doesn't make the health problems go away. Which is worse on the health? I've taken in a lot of underfed dogs, pushing emaciation, but this dog didn't look like he could physically move. His skin is covered in sores from where his body was never not touching another part of itself or the floor. Open wounds rubbing against skin and floor. And there are still younger people out there that truly believe it is not animal abuse to bring your pet to obesity.
It's a sad situation, but we can't excuse the elderly for everything. If they aren't going to stop doing this, then take the animals away. Treat the situation just as it would be treated elsewhere; elsewhere, it's not like an owner would be thrown into prison for this. A fine, taking the animal away, that's probably as much as anyone would do regardless of age, honestly. I don't see how that's outrageous. Leniency is part of the reason we have ridiculous new laws being proposed in the first place: because we don't bother to enforce the ones we have now.