Category Archives: Reptiles

Cruelty to snakes, bearded dragons, chameleons, tortoises, other reptiles

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

 

Wallasey, Wirral, Merseyside: Kelly Smyth

#TheList Kelly Smyth, born c.  1978, of Poulton Road, Wallasey CH44 – killed her pet lizard by throwing it from a first- floor window towards police officers

Smyth was found guilty in her absence of two animal cruelty offences at Wirral Magistrates Court in relation to the death of the native Australian lizard, known as a blue-tongued skink.

The court heard how Merseyside Police had attended her first floor flat on June 25, 2018.

When they arrived Smyth told them she no longer wanted her pet dog and they were concerned she would harm it so they led the pet away to their van.

As they took the dog outside, officers said they saw Smyth at her first floor window and heard what they described as a “loud slapping noise.”

They went to the area where the noise came from and found the skink frothing at the mouth and dying on the pavement.

Officers took the seriously injured reptile to a nearby veterinary practice but he had died on arrival and the police referred the case to the RSPCA.

RSPCA inspector Anthony Joynes, who investigated the case, said: “A post mortem revealed this poor skink had suffered a multitude of injuries after being thrown from the window including a broken back, haemorrhage to the brain and blood on the lungs.

“From the point of impact it took minutes to die and must have suffered terribly. It is awful that this pet was left to die in agony on the cold, dark concrete of a pavement for no reason.

“The RSPCA take all cruelty cases involving all animals very seriously and we treat this act involving a small reptile the same as if it was a cat or a dog – as the pain and suffering would be the same.

“This case also acts as a reminder that exotic animals need specialist care and many people are unaware of how much of a commitment these animals are when they take them on as pets.”

Sentencing:
Smyth was also given a 12-month community order, a fine of £50, and ordered to pay £150 costs and a £85 victim surcharge. Banned from keeping animals for just three years (expires October 2021).

Liverpool Echo

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.”

Echo News
ITV News

 

Denton Burn, Newcastle upon Tyne: Richard Curtis and Claire Fradgley

#TheList Richard Curtis and Claire Fradgley, both aged 36, of Loweswater Road, Denton Burn, Newcastle upon Tyne NE5 2SN – starved a boa constrictor snake to death

Claire Fradgley and Richard Curtis from Newcastle starved a boa constrictor to death
An RSPCA inspector found the dead snake in a cold tank at the rented home of Richard Curtis and Claire Fradgley.

A post-mortem revealed starvation was the only possible cause of death.

Speaking about the case RSPCA inspector Kirsty Keogh-Laws said: “Curtis and Fradgley admitted that they knew the snake was thin but they didn’t do anything about it.”

“This snake suffered and died as a result.”

The couple initially denied any wrongdoing, despite the charity claiming they had caused the reptile to suffer needlessly for more than two months last winter.

But just before their trial at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court was due to start, they both entered guilty pleas to four charges.

The pair admitted causing unnecessary suffering to the animal, along with failing to ensure the snake’s welfare.

They were caught when the landlord of their old Newburn Road property in Newcastle found the unnamed snake.

The attending RSPCA officer discovered the vivarium in which the snake was found didn’t even have a heat lamp.

Magistrates have now banned the pair, who are parents to three boys, from keeping reptiles again.

Sentencing: 
Curtis: a total of £865 fines and costs
Fradgley: a total of £700 fines and costs
Both banned for life from keeping reptiles

Chronicle

Motherwell, North Lanarkshire: Keith Ross

#TheList Keith Ross, Highfield Crescent, Motherwell –  kept reptiles, including king cobra, rattlesnake and vipers, in his one-bedroom flat in appalling conditions.

Animal abuser and sexual deviant Keith Ross from Motherwell
Animal abuser and sexual deviant Keith Ross from Motherwell

Ross admitted animal neglect after keeping the creatures in his small apartment for six years.

Ross previously ran ‘Keith’s Reptile Parties’ where he charged £80 per hour for attending children’s events with a number of his animals, including the lizards and snakes.

Ross also had turtles, a polecat and a hawk at his flat.

Slough, Berkshire: Emma Ditch

#TheList Emma Ditch, of 56 Aylesbury Crescent, Slough SL1 3ES – neglected a dog, degus and a snake

silhouette of a woman - abuser photo wanted

Ditch was found guilty of not meeting the needs of and not keeping safe from injury a German Shepherd named Champ, two degus and a snake.

Following a complaint about incessant barking, council officers rescued the animals, which were all at risk of injury.

All of the animals were re-homed.ba

Sentence: £525 in costs. Banned from keeping rodents and reptiles for just two years (expires April 2019).

Newslink
Slough Express

Market Drayton, Shropshire: Jennifer Jeane Lampe

#TheList Jennifer Jeane Lampe, born c. 1988, of Shropshire Street, Market Drayton – beheaded her two pet snakes with a pair of scissors after downing seven cans of lager in an alcohol binge; also drowned a hamster and abandoned a puppy and kittens

Image may contain: 1 person, close-up

Lampe told police she had killed the snakes because she feared her sister was about to throw her out of the home they shared and did not think she could look after them.

The heads of the two snakes were in her pockets of her jogging bottoms and she was covered in blood when police arrived to arrest her.

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Four days prior to cutting the heads off her two pet snakes with a pair of scissors Lampe drowned a hamster because he was noisy and “keeping her up at night”.

The court heard Lampe had also dumped and abandoned two tabby cats and given away a puppy to a stranger in the park because she did not want to look after them any more.

Despite this catalogue of appalling cruelty and neglect, Lampe was given an animal ban of just five years.

Sentencing:
Four months in prison, suspended for two years. Banned from keeping animals for five years.

Shropshire Star

Birkenhead, Merseyside: David Michael O’Toole

#TheList David Michael O’Toole, born c. 1986, of Birkett Rd, Rock Ferry, Birkenhead CH42 4PR – set his dog on his girlfriend’s pet tortoise and sent her videos of the attack

Thug David Michael O'Toole, who also has drugs convictions, set his dog on his girlfriend's pet tortoise and sent her a video of the attack
Thug David Michael O’Toole, who also has drugs convictions, set his dog on his girlfriend’s pet tortoise and sent her a video of the attack

O’Toole could be heard shouting “go on, get him,” over and over again as the dog “bit chunks” from the helpless tortoise’s shell.

The owner of the tortoise, Lucy McDonald, was forced to give her pet to a rescue centre after being unable to afford to pay for treatment needed as a result of the attack.

O’Toole pleaded guilty at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court today to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and to sending an offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing communication.

Thug David Michael O'Toole, who also has drugs convictions, set his dog on his girlfriend's pet tortoise and sent her a video of the attack

Hannah Griffiths, prosecuting, told the court: “The victim had been at a family member’s house after a weekend away with the defendant, who is now her former partner.

“While at her family member’s address she received two videos of the defendant goading his dog into going for the defendant’s pet tortoise, which was upside down. In the background he could be heard saying ‘go on, get him’, over and over again.”

The court heard the incident was reported to the police who attended O’Toole’s address. Officers found the tortoise bleeding, and noticed it had chunks of shell missing, and arrested the defendant for animal cruelty.

Ms Griffiths said: “The complainant, in her statement, said she thought the defendant would kill the tortoise and described being extremely scared and upset.”

Liverpool Echo 24/03/2016
Liverpool Echo 18/01/2017 (contains details of sentencing for the animal cruelty offence and further crimes)

Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire: Emma Clark

#TheList Emma Louise Clark (also known as Emma Lounds or Emma Anderson), originally of St Peters Walk, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire,  and more recently at A1 Deerfield Road, March, Cambridgeshire PE15 9AH – starved three dogs, two cats, two rabbits, a pair of snakes and a lizard to death over a period of nearly four months

Emma Clark/Lounds, now of March, Cambridgeshire, left ten animals to starve to death
Emma Clark/Lounds, now of March, Cambridgeshire, left ten animals to starve to death

Clark’s pets included a German Shepherd called Beast, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Tyson and a Mexican hairless dog called Stanley. She also had a cat called Mittens, a kitten called Lucy and a leopard gecko called Leonard. Clark also had a boa constrictor and a corn snake as well as two domestic rabbits.

Emma Clark/Lounds, now of March, Cambridgeshire, left ten animals to starve to death
A sad end for beautiful loyal dog Beast thanks to his owner Emma Clark/Lounds
Emma Clark/Lounds, now of March, Cambridgeshire, left ten animals to starve to death
Another victim of Emma Clark’s cruelty: one of the two cats left to starve to death.

All of them died as a result of the neglect they suffered.

RSPCA officers had made numerous visits to the house between 1 November 2014 and 22 February 2015, but each time they were told by Clark all the animals had been re-homed.

When they were eventually discovered in March it is thought many of the creatures had been dead for months.

RSPCA officials said it was one of the worst cases of animal neglect they had ever seen, and totally avoidable.

Sheona Morley, from the charity, said: “In my 20 years, this is the most horrific case I’ve ever been to – it is also the saddest.

“It was absolute horror to see all those animals had died from starvation, left in their cages with no access to food or water.”

Magistrates told Clark her animals were effectively locked up and starved to death.

Sentence: 18 weeks in custody and banned from keeping animals for life.

BBC News
Daily Mail

Hartlepool, County Durham: Daniel Winspear

Daniel ‘Winnie’ Winspear (DoB 18/11/1990) of Arncliffe Gardens, Hartlepool TS26 9JF – smashed a tortoise to pieces with a baseball bat

Convicted animal abuser Daniel Winspear of Hartlepool
Cruel: A drunken Winspear smashed a tortoise to bits with a baseball bat

Drunken Daniel Winspear, who was aged 18 at date of conviction, carried out the attack on the defenceless creature – which is a protected species – at a house party.

Winspear was found in the conservatory in the early hours of May 23, 2008, with the bat in his hand and the dismembered tortoise next to him.

An RSPCA statement said: “This was an act of gruesome, sadistic cruelty and the magistrates sentence, including the disqualification, reflected not only the magistrates’ disapproval but society’s disapproval of such acts.”

Winspear had been invited to the party by a cousin who was already there. But on arrival he was “very drunk.”

John Ellwood, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said: “While at the house he took a small baseball bat and smashed a tortoise to death.”

The teenager who lived at the house then came into the conservatory and saw “the mess everywhere” and asked what had happened.

Mr Ellwood added: “Mr Winspear appeared to have the baseball bat in his hand and was smiling and accused one of the other boys of having done it.

“On further inquiries he admitted he had done it and was told to leave.

“The young man and his friends tried to clean up the mess and put the tortoise in the bin.

“Unfortunately they kept finding bits of the tortoise splattered about the conservatory and the smell was truly grim.”

The pet’s owners rushed back from their holiday in Blackpool after hearing about the sickening act, and they immediately called the RSPCA.

A vet from the charity said the tortoise had not died instantly but “suffered between the repetitive blows.”

In interview with RSPCA inspectors, Winspear said he was too drunk to remember doing it.

The chairman of the magistrates’ bench, Katie Brown, said: “The photos we saw made sickening viewing and you really should have faced up to what you did.

“You committed this while under the influence of alcohol which is indicative of the perils of alcohol abuse.”

Winspear was allowed to appeal against the ban on looking after animals after five years.

Sentence: 18-month community order with 250 hours of unpaid work; costs of £1,652.71 to cover RSPCA, vet and solicitor bills; banned from keeping animals for 10 years (expires March 2019).

Hartlepool Mail