Category Archives: birds of prey

Meir, Stoke-on-Trent: Natalie Keenan and David Knight

#TheList Natalie Keenan, born c. 1989, and David Knight, born c. 1977, both of Sandon Old Road, Meir, Stoke-on-Trent ST3 – kept 23 pets – including a barn owl, a fox and a raccoon dog – inside a smelly and flea-ridden house of horrors

David Knight and Natalie Keenan of Meir, Stoke kept 23 pets - including owl, fox and raccoon dog - inside 'smelly and flea-ridden' house of horrors

David Knight pleaded guilty to five charges related to animal cruelty, while Natalie Keenan admitted four offences under the Animal Welfare Act.

The pair’s mini-zoo was discovered by chance when a utility company official went round to the Meir home to execute a warrant as they hadn’t paid their gas bill.

He alerted the RSPCA, who were confronted by the stench of neglect, with piles of dog poo in the kitchen, rotting chickens in a snake tank and animals covered in fleas.

David Knight and Natalie Keenan of Meir, Stoke kept 23 pets - including owl, fox and raccoon dog - inside 'smelly and flea-ridden' house of horrors

Other creatures – from pets to exotics to wild animals – were being kept in tiny filthy cages, with barely enough room to move and without ready access to water.

A raccoon dog kept in a foul cage by Natalie Keenan and David Knight from Meir, Stoke

One terrier-type dog, called Lexi, was in such a poor condition that she had to be put to sleep.

Hazel Stevens, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said Lexi was experiencing ‘significant suffering’. She was virtually blind, emaciated with protruding bones, had little fur and an infected tumour that was hidden underneath a ‘foul-smelling mess’.

The dog was found curled up on a pile of dirty nappies and had to be carried out of the house as she couldn’t walk.

The couple also had:

  • another dog, Mocha the French bulldog
  • a cat called Gizzy, who both had skin and flea problems;
  • a barn owl caged up in a bedroom
  • a fox living in a cage in another room;
  • a racoon dog
  • a rat
  • a bearded dragon
  • five snakes
  • eight degus;
  • and an African grey parrot called Charlie.
David Knight and Natalie Keenan of Meir, Stoke kept 23 pets - including owl, fox and raccoon dog - inside 'smelly and flea-ridden' house of horrors
Lexi was in such poor condition she had to be put to sleep

RSPCA Inspector Charlotte Melvin said: “When I arrived at the property the couple wouldn’t let me inside so I waited outside for over two hours until police arrived.

“During that time the family carried bin bag after bin bag of rubbish out of the house.

“When I finally went inside it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Even though they’d been clearing out for two hours it was still absolutely filthy and the animals were being kept in horrifying conditions.

“There was cage after cage and animal after animal. The rooms were strewn with rubbish, all of the animals’ accommodation was filthy and their welfare needs were clearly not being met.

“It was disgusting and it was mass-scale neglect.”

The other animals remain in RSPCA care and can now be rehomed or moved to suitable keepers.

“Many of these animals simply shouldn’t be kept as pets let alone kept like this,” Inspector Melvin added.

“To see these poor animals living in such squalor was heartbreaking. I’m just glad they can all now have a second chance at find loving new homes where their needs will be properly catered to.”

Sentencing: 12-month community order including a 30-hour rehabilitation requirement. Total of £235 each in costs and charges.  Both were disqualified from keeping animals for three years.

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Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire: Jeremiah Smith and father Jason Smith

Jeremiah Smith, born July 1997, and his father Jason Smith, born ca 1972, both of 11 Burton Road, Branston, Burton On Trent, Staffordshire DE14 3DL for cruelty to rabbits, hens, owls and a kestrel

Animal abuser Jeremiah Smith from Burton on Trent
Gypsy Jeremiah Smith and two of his victims

Gypsies Jeremiah and Jason Smith were both prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The RSPCA found up to 70 animals at their address at 11 Burton Road including chickens, rabbits and birds of prey, the latter kept in cages for parrots and being fed unsuitable foods. Chickens were also not being treating for a mite infestation.

Smith senior pleaded guilty to charges of failing to prevent the causing of unnecessary suffering to animals between August 10 and 15, 2017.

This included failing to treat 17 chickens for a mite infestation and failing to meet the need for a suitable living environment for 30 chickens. He also pleaded guilty for failing to meet the need for a suitable living environment for three goldfinches.

His son Jeremiah Smith – father to 3yo triplets – pleaded guilty to four charges of causing unnecessary suffering to protected animals.

Irresponsible gypsy and animal abuser Jeremiah Smith bought and sold birds via social media
Irresponsible gypsy and animal abuser Jeremiah Smith bought and sold birds via social media

This included failing to meet the need for a suitable living environment for five rabbits, a kestrel, two barn owls and 12 pigeons as well as failing to meet their need of a suitable diet and constant water supply for the rabbits.

The RSPCA praised the court for their ruling and warned people not to keep animals they cannot look after.

Sentencing:
Jason Smith – total fines and charges of £1,055.
Jeremiah Smith – total fines and charges of  £1,455.Both were disqualified from keeping animals for two years.

Jason Smith’s lawyer said they would be appealing against the decision.