Category Archives: Hoarders

Animal hoarders

Stapleford Abbotts, Romford: Edwin Harris

#TheList persistent hoarder Edwin Harris, born c. 1939, of Murthering Lane, Stapleford Abbotts, Romford RM4 – kept 13 dogs, six pigs, six cockerels, two ducks, four cats, a pigeon and a rook in foul conditions; breached previous ban

Edwin Harris continued to acquire animals despite being disqualified for life from having any. He then kept them in appalling conditions.
Edwin Harris continued to acquire animals despite being disqualified for life from having any. He then kept them in appalling conditions.

Harris was banned from keeping animals for life for a second time after he admitted breaching a previous ban when he was found to be keeping a large number of animals in appalling conditions.

He also admitted failing to provide the animals with a suitable environment and causing unnecessary suffering to Bella, a Shar Pei-type dog, by failing to adequately investigate and address the cause of her ear and skin conditions.

The RSPCA attended the address in May 2018 with the police and found a large number of animals being kept in appalling conditions.

Edwin Harris continued to acquire animals despite being disqualified for life from having any. He then kept them in appalling conditions.
A Jack Russell rescued from a life of misery at the hands of her cruel owner Edwin Harris

Dogs were found in small cages covered in mess and faeces with little or no water, and one was even found locked inside a cupboard which had been turned into a makeshift cage.

Six pigs were kept in a narrow space in an outbuilding with hardly any room to turn round.
Six pigs were kept in a narrow space in an outbuilding with hardly any room to turn round.

The cockerels, pigeon and rook were also kept in small cages covered in faeces, and the pigs were kept in a small narrow space within an outbuilding with hardly any room to turn round or exercise.

RSPCA Inspector Adam Jones said: “The conditions were appalling, most of the small animals and dogs were kept in cages and probably had not known any other life. They had obviously never been socialised and were scared.

“The cages had not been cleaned out and the animals were surrounded in their own faeces and dirt. If they did have water it was usually filthy. I was horrified to find one small Jack Russell being kept in a cupboard that the defendant had converted into some kind of makeshift cage.

“By his own admission the defendant had claimed he had a compulsion to keep animals because he loved them and he couldn’t stop taking them in. Had we not removed these animals it’s likely the numbers would have only increased – one of the pigs we removed had later had a litter of piglets.

“I hope that now he has been sentenced by the court the defendant will learn his lesson and not get animals which he clearly is unable to look after properly.”

Although the matter had crossed a custody threshold the bench said they had taken into account the defendant’s age and vulnerability and the fact that he has never been to prison before, but were keen for him to have some rehabilitation

In 2014 Harris was disqualified from keeping animals for life following a prosecution by the RSPCA.

Sentencing: Two-year community order with the requirement to carry out 135 hours of unpaid work and 60 days of Rehabilitation Activity Requirement; costs of £1,300 and a £85 victim surcharge. Lifetime ban on keeping animals.

Romford Recorder

Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire: Mia Connor

#TheList Mia Beth Connor, born 21/12/97, formerly of Rockhampton Avenue, East Kilbride, and now of Greenfaulds Crescent, Cumbernauld G67 2PJ – for shocking neglect of cats, dogs and lizards

Presa Canario cross Hulk had been locked in a room by his irresponsible owner Mia Connor now of Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire
Presa Canario cross Hulk had been locked in a room by his irresponsible owner Mia Connor

An investigation by the Scottish SPCA found that single mother-of-one Mia Connor had kept her animals in atrocious conditions and deprived them of food and water.

By the time the SSPCA attended Connor’s then property in Westwood, East Kilbride, a bearded dragon and gecko had already died a slow and miserable death. Their decomposed and dessicated bodies were found in an unlit and unheated vivarium. A surviving dragon named Cheech was found to be suffering severe dehydration and hypothermia.

Connor had failed to feed other pets properly, including cats Nemo and MJ, a collie named Luka and a Presa Canario cross called Hulk. Luka especially was very underweight

Foul conditions at the property in which animal abuser Mia Connor kept dogs, cats and lizards
Foul conditions at the property in which animal abuser Mia Connor kept dogs, cats and lizards

SSPCA inspector Jack Marshall described being met with “an overpowering smell of faeces and urine” as he entered Connor’s property which was strewn with rubbish and faeces.

Foul conditions at the property in which animal abuser Mia Connor kept dogs, cats and lizards

Inspector Marshall continued: “Hulk was contained in a bedroom upstairs and when I entered, he was desperate to get out of the room. He was also in a very lean body condition. This room had an overwhelming stench of excrement and urine.

“The animals were transported immediately to the vet and upon examination all were found to be emaciated and dehydrated. Both dogs were given a body score of 2/5. Hulk had a very marked and generalised skin disease which appeared to have had very little treatment. Luka’s coat was in very poor condition and smelled strongly of urine.

“Both cats had evidence of flea infestation.

“Veterinary examination found this to be marked neglect over an extended period of time, for all of the animals, comprising deprivation of the most basic requirements for life, namely food and water. The timescale involved can’t be given precisely but would be expected to be over several weeks.

“Failing to provide for these animals clearly resulted in an unacceptable degree of unnecessary suffering and stress to all the animals involved.”

Connor pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the animals but was let off with a paltry fine and a five-year ban on keeping animals.

Sentencing:
£600 fine. Banned from keeping animals for just five years.

Scottish SPCA News
Daily Record

Boxley, Kent: Langley Beck

#TheList Langley Beck, born c. 1963, or Bell Lane, Boxley, Maidstone, Kent ME14 39G – kept seven dogs and three ducks without water inside his home

Langley Beck from Boxley, Kent, has been banned for life from keeping animals after housing dogs and ducks in appalling conditions
Langley Beck has been banned for life from keeping animals after housing dogs and ducks in appalling conditions

Reclusive Langley Beck is said to own 80 acres of property but kept dogs in rooms with surfaces and furniture covered in excrement. Three ducks were found in a ‘hot’ caravan where all the doors and windows were closed. It is believed they had been left without water for 12 hours and had to be euthanised.

Beck, who is believed to live alone at the bleak property in Boxley, is the last member of the area’s oldest farming family.

Medway Magistrates Court heard police and an RSPCA investigator visited his home in July 2017.

Langley Beck has been banned for life from keeping animals after housing dogs and ducks in appalling conditions

RSPCA head investigator Ellie Burtcor entered one portacabin containing four dogs and said her eyes began to water from the stench.

She said: ‘It was absolutely disgusting, my eyes were watering with the urine smell that was coming from there.

‘There was an overwhelming smell of faeces and it was very damp and stagnant.

Langley Beck has been banned for life from keeping animals after housing dogs and ducks in appalling conditions

‘There were piles of faeces everywhere, faeces scraped along the floor, rubbish boxes, there were broken china ornaments.

‘Just everything that was completely unsuitable for a dog to be running around in.’

Giving evidence, Beck said the dogs had all been fed and given water that day and he would have been able to tend to the ducks if he hadn’t been occupied with the police arriving.

When asked about his routine of cleaning the areas the dogs lived in, he remained silent.

Despite the conditions, a vet who inspected the dogs said they were healthy.

A post mortem examination of the ducks concluded that they had gone at least 12 hours without water.

One was in such a bad state it was immediately put down while the other two were euthanised later.

Beck says his family have lived in Boxley for more than 100 years, making them the longest running residents of the village.

Sentencing: 20 days of rehabilitation activities, 100 hours of unpaid work; £1,800 in costs plus an £85 victim surcharge. Banned from keeping animals for life.

Metro
KentOnline

Barlby, North Yorkshire: Keith Lewis

#TheList Keith Lewis, born c. 1948, of York Road, Barlby, North Yorkshire YO8 – a serial abuser with three separate convictions for neglect involving dozens of animals including dogs, rabbits, ferrets and birds

In December 2018 RSPCA officers discovered Lewis’s injured dog Meg tethered to a pipe with a chain inside a dark and muddy shed. She had an infected+- neck wound caused by embedded twine.

In the latest prosecution case against him serial abuser Keith Lewis admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a collie dog named Meg

The RSPCA attended Lewis’s property on 13 December 2018, along with police after a call from a member of the public and found Meg tethered to a pipe with a chain inside a dark and muddy shed.

RSPCA inspector Claire Mitchell said: “The chain and tether were absolutely filthy, caked in mud and faeces.

“You could see that whatever Meg had around her neck was really tight and there was an obvious smell of infection coming from her.

“On closer inspection it became clear that it was in fact bailer twine and she needed urgent veterinary attention.”

Meg was seized by police and taken to a vets who found the area around her neck was matted with pus.

The twine – which had been wrapped around her neck multiple times – was embedded in her skin and muscle and infected, and when the vet cut it off she found a wound all the way around her neck.

Meg’s temperature was high – most likely as a result of the infection – and her lower body was matted with dirt and faeces.

She was operated on to clip and clean the wound and stitch it up and hospitalised for five days.

Veterinary evidence suggested that Meg had suffered for at least two weeks.

Inspector Mitchell said: “This is the worst tethering injury I’ve ever seen in a dog. It was absolutely terrible and she suffered a great deal.

“The RSPCA does not agree with tethering dogs for long periods as it can cause distress and restrict natural behaviours but this in itself is not illegal providing that their needs are being met.”

Meg was signed over shortly afterward coming into RSPCA care and has been rehomed.

In mitigation the court heard that Lewis had pleaded guilty, that Meg had been moved to the shed following complaints about her continuously howling where she had been previously tethered near to a public footpath, that he had animals all his life and a disqualification would have a real impact on him.

However, the court remarked that he had previous animal cruelty convictions which were an aggravating factor.

Lewis was first prosecuted in 2016 when York magistrates heard how he kept 60 animals living in filthy, squalid and cramped conditions in former agricultural buildings in Barlby.

On that occasion he admitted neglect offences in relations to about 30 of the animals, mostly poultry and rabbits, and was banned from keeping caged animals for 10 years and ordered to do a 12-week curfew.

Three months after he appeared in court, police and an RSPCA inspector found two ferrets at his house in what the RSPCA’s prosecuting solicitor Phil Brown called “frankly appalling” conditions. They had no water, they were kept with piles of faeces and dirty bedding and three rotting rabbit carcasses.

Lewis was again taken to court and this time admitted breaching the 10-year animal ban, and failure to care for animals.

He received a second 10-year animal ban, preventing him having animals kept in cages.

But in December 2018, the RSPCA found Meg with the untreated wound round her neck.

At each of his three hearings, he claimed through his solicitors that the animals belonged to his son, claims that are not accepted by the RSPCA.

Sentencing (February 2019): 24-week prison sentence, suspended for two years; total of £415 costs and charges. Banned indefinitely from owning or having any part in the care of any animal of any species. A deprivation order was placed on any other animals in his care, including a number of dogs, cats, poultry, sheep, cows and pigs.

Yorkshire Post
York Press
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York Press

Aberchirder, Aberdeenshire: Michelle Smith

#TheList hoarder Michelle Smith, born c. 1982, of Wester Culvie, Aberchirder, Huntly, Aberdeenshire AB54 7RB – failed to provide adequate diet, environment and veterinary attention to multiple animals in her care

Hoarder Michelle Smith of Aberchirder, Aberdeenshire, kept dozens of animals in atrocious conditions and allowed some to starve to death
Evidence showed that Michelle Smith hadn’t fed some of her animals for six weeks. Clearly the tubby hoarder didn’t deprive herself of any food.

In a case involving 63 animals including 19 dogs and 21 cats as well as ducks and chickens, Smith was summoned to Aberdeen Sheriff Court to face charges of neglect.

Smith pleaded guilty to five charges, including failure to provide veterinary attention, failure to ensure animals’ needs were met by being deprived of food and fresh water, by being kept in an unsuitable environment, failure to protect the animals from suffering/injury and disease and failure to provide an adequate nutritional diet which ultimately led to animals being caused unnecessary suffering.

Hoarder Michelle Smith of Aberchirder, Aberdeenshire, kept dozens of animals in atrocious conditions and allowed some to starve to death
Kittens starved to death by hoarder Michelle Smith of Aberchirder, near Huntly, Aberdeenshire

Commenting on the investigation and court case, senior Scottish SPCA inspector Alison Simpson said, “After receiving a call to our animal helpline regarding welfare concerns I arrived at the locus and was met by three dogs. I noticed a residential caravan which was not used as a residence but rather had cats in pens at the rear interior.

“Opposite the house I saw a rabbit hutch where kittens could be heard.

“I first asked Smith if I could look in the rabbit hutch where I heard the kittens, it was a two-storey hutch and stank of faeces and urine. The kittens were clawing and climbing at the mesh front. Within the hutch there were eight small kittens alive, around four/five weeks old, all were extremely thin, dirty and wet. There were also three dead kittens which appeared to be emaciated.

Hoarder Michelle Smith of Aberchirder, Aberdeenshire, kept dozens of animals in atrocious conditions and allowed some to starve to death
Hoarder Michelle Smith kept animals in atrocious conditions

“After removing the kittens from the hutch and placing them in my van we then entered the caravan and the stench and presence of cat urine and faeces was overwhelming. On initial inspection I noted one kitten running loose and two areas within the caravan which were pens with mesh doors. I also noticed one dead kitten within one of the pens.

“Venturing back outside I noticed four runs containing poultry, in total seven ducks and eight hens, along with two dead ducks. Smith then stated one of the dogs had got into the run that morning which may account for the deaths. The dead ducks appeared extremely thin.

“Upon veterinary examination it was noted that the caravan contained a considerable amount of faeces, both in the litter tray and on the floor which had built up over a period of a minimum of three weeks with little ventilation. There was no food or water available to the cats inside.

“On an initial inspection of the first caravan room and the seven cats inside they were all noted as being underweight, some severely, and there was evidence of chronic eye issues, gingivitis, ear mites and varying degrees of matting/build-up of faeces. The deceased kitten was in an extremely emaciated state.

“Within the second room of the caravan there was another deceased kitten. This room was in a similar state to the first room in the caravan, with faecal matter covering the room and cats. The six kittens in this room were underweight and the deceased kitten was in an extremely thin/emaciated state.

“Once the vet had examined the kittens which had been removed from the rabbit hutch they were found to be in poor body condition and covered faeces and urine. The kittens all had dirty ears and ear mites.

“All poultry examined at the locus were significantly underweight with two being deceased. Two of the hens were quiet, and hunched over, indicating illness. The vet believed the birds had not had their nutritional requirements met for a minimum of seven days. The ducks were in the same condition, two were kept in a pen by themselves as Smith stated they had been injured by a dog earlier on that day. There was a wound on one of the ducks which had scabbed over. We requested food to aid us examining the birds and when we gave this to them, they were ravenous.

“After being removed, the animals were thoroughly examined by a vet and later taken to one of our rehoming centres.

“Smith fully cooperated with our investigation and signed the animals which were removed over to the Society. This meant we were able to rehome them once they had made full recoveries and did not have to wait for sentencing before doing so.

Sheriff Sukhwinder Gill rejected the procurator fiscal’s call for Smith to be prevented from keeping all animals and instead let her keep her eight dogs. She cannot keep any other pets for 10 years.

Sentencing: ten-year ban on owning and keeping animals, excluding dogs, with a further sentence deferred for six months.

Scottish SPCA
The Sun

Washford, Somerset: Heather Stanton

#TheList hoarder Heather Stanton, born c. 1958, of Barn End, Williton Road, Washford, Somerset TA23 0NU – left several animals to suffer in squalor with untreated health conditions

Some of the pets rescued from animal abuser Heather Stanton from Washford, Somerset
Some of the pets who suffered appalling neglect at the hands of their negligent owner Heather Stanton

Stanton was found guilty of the mistreatment of 11 dogs, including a sheepdog, a Jack Russell Terrier, Chinese Crested type dogs and Pomeranian type dogs.

Some of the pets rescued from animal abuser Heather Stanton from Washford, Somerset

The animals had a number of conditions including eye and skin infections which were not treated.

Stanton was also found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a white lionhead rabbit by confining the animal to the detriment of his wellbeing, to which she had pleaded not guilty.

Stanton pleaded not guilty to causing suffering to a white domestic cat but was again found to be guilty.

She also admitted to the mistreatment of a tortoise and six birds in her care.

One of the dogs mistreated by irresponsible Heather Stanton

Speaking about the case RSPCA inspector Jo Daniel said: “This was an upsetting case of extreme neglect for which there can be no excuse.

“Stanton had more animals than she could cope with and was unable to care for them adequately, as a result sadly many of the animals were suffering.

“All owners are responsible for meeting the needs of the animals in their care and we now look forward to finding these animals the loving homes they deserve.”

Sentencing:
Fined £5,000 and £85 costs. Community order of 80 hours of unpaid work. Disqualified from owning dogs, cats, birds and tortoises for five years under the Animal Welfare Act.

Somerset County Gazette
SomersetLive

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In April 2019 Stanton’s appeal against her five-year disqualification order was rejected.

Clevedon, North Somerset: Jennifer Parnell

#TheList Jennifer Parnell, born c. 1944, previously of Beaconsfield Road, Clevedon,  Somerset – a serial hoarder who breached a previous ban on keeping animals after eight cats were found in squalor at her home

Jennifer Parnell is a serial animal abuser of cats, dogs and also, allegedly, horses though she faced no charges in relation to the welfare of those she currently has.
The conditions inside serial hoarder Jennifer Parnell's filthy home
 The conditions inside serial hoarder Jennifer Parnell’s filthy home

In April 2012 Jennifer Parnell, then living in Burnham-on-Sea, was banned from keeping dogs and cats for 10 years after being convicted of cruelty charges relating to three dogs and four kittens. Now her disqualification order has been extended until 2038 after eight cats were found in disgusting conditions at her current address.

Parnell had crudely white-washed the windows of her home in an attempt to hide the faeces-ridden rooms inside the property and the cats who lived there.

But when the RSPCA got into her home, they found the eight cats living in squalid conditions.

One of the cats was so poorly he had to be put to sleep. He had been left to suffer with a blocked bladder.

This unnamed black and white cat had to be put to sleep to end his suffering
 Sadly this little one had been so neglected he couldn’t be saved

Parnell was brought to court but failed to turn up and had to be brought back to court under a warrant.

She was convicted of three charges of causing animal suffering.

“This could have all been avoided if the disqualification order had not been breached,” said RSPCA acting chief inspector Stephanie Daly.

“The courts impose disqualification orders for a reason – to protect animals from suffering and neglect at the hands of people who have been convicted of doing so.

“We rely on the public to inform us if someone has breached a ban and take this very seriously – as do the courts,” she added.

The surviving cats will now be made available for rehoming.

Sentencing:
26 weeks in prison, suspended for two years; £2,000 towards boarding costs. Ban on keeping dogs and cats extended until 2038. 

BristolLive

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Note – 07/12/18: we have been advised that Jennifer Parnell (who has been known to use aliases including the surname Stewart) has now moved to Ashcombe Road, Weston-super-Mare. We understand that this serial hoarder and animal abuser relocates often to avoid detection. Anyone in that road should keep an eye out for those giveaway white-washed windows.

Parnell also apparently keeps four horses in Portbury, near gordano, which were not the subject of the cruelty  case. We also hear that two dogs were in her possession as well but the RSPCA’s prosecution only concerned her keeping of cats.

Please watch out for her. By all accounts this is no confused old lady, but a devious individual who has apparently left landlords, vets, farriers and others thousands of pounds out of pocket. 



Wolverhampton, West Midlands: Nicola Lissimore

#TheList Nicola J Lissimore, born 1970, of Mount Road, Wolverhampton WV4 6LU – kept four dead cats decaying inside a flea-ridden house

Nicola Lissimore, from Wolverhampton, West Midlands, kept her home in such a filthy state that fleas were found jumping at the front door and poo blocked the back door.
Nicola Lissimore, from Wolverhampton, West Midlands, kept her home in such a filthy state that fleas were found jumping at the front door and poo blocked the back door.

Lissimore kept her home in such a filthy state that fleas were found jumping at the front door and poo blocked the back door.

Pic by RSPCA/Caters News - (Pictured: The disgusting interior of Nicola Lissimores house.) -A woman living in squalor has been banned from keeping animals for life after four cats were found dead in her house - which was so filthy fleas were jumping at the front door and piles of faeces were blocking the back door. Nicola Lissimore, from Wolverhampton, West Mids, pleaded guilty to two animal welfare offences when she appeared before Birmingham Magistrates Court on Friday (November 9). The 49-year-old lived in a filthy house and the court heard how the RSPCA were called to her address after concerns a number of cats were not being cared for. On investigation, four cats were found dead and a further 10 were found in a poor bodily condition. Inspector Dawn Burrell went to the address and was unable to contact the owner but could see a number of emaciated cats through a window. She could also see piles of faeces and rubbish in the house and could not find any signs that the cats had food and water. The pets had no access to the outside and she could see fleas jumping up at the front door. The RSPCA monitored property for a few days and believed no one was attending to the cats so, upon veterinary advice, entry was gained with the help of officers from West Midlands Police. SEE CATERS COPY.

Pic by RSPCA/Caters News - (Pictured: The disgusting interior of Nicola Lissimores house.) -A woman living in squalor has been banned from keeping animals for life after four cats were found dead in her house - which was so filthy fleas were jumping at the front door and piles of faeces were blocking the back door. Nicola Lissimore, from Wolverhampton, West Mids, pleaded guilty to two animal welfare offences when she appeared before Birmingham Magistrates Court on Friday (November 9). The 49-year-old lived in a filthy house and the court heard how the RSPCA were called to her address after concerns a number of cats were not being cared for. On investigation, four cats were found dead and a further 10 were found in a poor bodily condition. Inspector Dawn Burrell went to the address and was unable to contact the owner but could see a number of emaciated cats through a window. She could also see piles of faeces and rubbish in the house and could not find any signs that the cats had food and water. The pets had no access to the outside and she could see fleas jumping up at the front door. The RSPCA monitored property for a few days and believed no one was attending to the cats so, upon veterinary advice, entry was gained with the help of officers from West Midlands Police. SEE CATERS COPY.

Pic by RSPCA/Caters News - (Pictured: The front door with faeces piled behind it) -A woman living in squalor has been banned from keeping animals for life after four cats were found dead in her house - which was so filthy fleas were jumping at the front door and piles of faeces were blocking the back door. Nicola Lissimore, from Wolverhampton, West Mids, pleaded guilty to two animal welfare offences when she appeared before Birmingham Magistrates Court on Friday (November 9). The 49-year-old lived in a filthy house and the court heard how the RSPCA were called to her address after concerns a number of cats were not being cared for. On investigation, four cats were found dead and a further 10 were found in a poor bodily condition. Inspector Dawn Burrell went to the address and was unable to contact the owner but could see a number of emaciated cats through a window. She could also see piles of faeces and rubbish in the house and could not find any signs that the cats had food and water. The pets had no access to the outside and she could see fleas jumping up at the front door. The RSPCA monitored property for a few days and believed no one was attending to the cats so, upon veterinary advice, entry was gained with the help of officers from West Midlands Police. SEE CATERS COPY.

The home was so bad that RSPCA inspectors ‘gagged’ as they searched the property.

As well as the the four dead cats, another ten were found alive – but in poor health – with many of them suffering from dehydration and other medical issues.

The below video shows the horrifying scene that RSPCA officers were met with:

Lissimore pleaded guilty to two animal welfare offences on Friday, November 9, 2018.

The RSPCA were called to her address after concerns were raised of a number of cats not being cared for, the court heard.

Inspector Dawn Burrell went to the address and was unable to contact the owner but could see a number of emaciated cats through a window.

She could also see piles of poo and rubbish in the house and could not find any signs that the cats had food and water.

The pets had no access to the outside and shockingly she could see fleas jumping up at the front door.

The RSPCA monitored the property for a few days and believed no one was attending to the cats so, upon veterinary advice, entry was gained with the help of officers from West Midlands Police.

Inspector Burrell said once inside it was clear the cats were suffering from dehydration, were emaciated and had other untreated medical issues.

“This time a front panel went through and immediately the smell of ammonia hit us as we went inside – it was so strong we were physically gagging.

“We found four dead cats amongst the piles of faeces which was piled high, there was rubbish strewn around and the only water available in the property was from a bathroom tap which was left running but the door was closed so they couldn’t access it.

“This was one of the worst properties I have entered in my thirty years in the job.

“It was so sad to see these dead cats just left in the filth and the others were either emaciated or had other health problems which had not been addressed.”

The surviving cats were signed over into the care of the RSPCA and have now been rehabilitated.

Some have already found new homes and others are still waiting for adopters.

Sentencing:
12-week jail term suspended for 18 months; 30-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement; 100 hours of unpaid work. Total of £415 costs and charges. Banned from keeping animals for life.

Birmingham Mail
Metro

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.

Stoke Sentinel
Signal1

Basildon. Essex: Lee Thompson

#TheList Lee Thompson, aged 36. of King Edward Terrace, High Road, Laindon, Basildon, Essex SS5 – kept more than 50 exotic animals in appalling conditions; 17 animals died

Lee Thompson from Basildon Essex, who is known as 'Snake', kept cobras, copperheads, pythons and a Madagascar giant hognose in appalling conditions in a bedroom.
Lee Thompson, who is known as ‘Snake’, kept cobras, copperheads, pythons and a Madagascar giant hognose in appalling conditions in a bedroom.

Thompson was charged with two counts of breaching a ban on keeping a dangerous wild animal, two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, and two counts of keeping a dangerous wild animal without a licence.

In November 2015 officers attended a unit Thompson rented in Cranes Farm Road, Basildon, where they found 45 exotic animals in a very poor condition.

These were 35 different species of snake, one Nile lizard, seven species of spider, one bullfrog and one snapping turtle.

In January 2018 officers searched a bedroom Thompson rented in a house in Burdett Avenue, Westcliff, and found a 4ft long spectacled Caiman in a makeshift pen.

There were also 23 snakes and a fat-tail scorpion. Seven of the snakes had died and been left to decompose.

Thompson had previously been convicted of keeping dangerous wild animals without a licence in 2009 and was banned from keeping them for ten years.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “Thompson kept wild animals in appalling conditions, ultimately causing 17 to die. Not only did he keep them without a licence but showed no care for their wellbeing or their survival.

“He then twice attempted to evade justice.

“We want to thank the RSPCA, particularly RSPCA inspector Rebecca Benson, for their assistance in helping to ensure the remaining animals were appropriately cared for.”

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