Category Archives: guinea pigs

Kingston Upon Hull: Rebecca McHugh

#TheList Rebecca Dawn McHugh, born 08/11/1981 of Boulevard, Hull HU3 – left animals to starve to death in her abandoned pet shop

Former pet shop owner Rebecca McHugh abandoned bearded dragons, a corn snake, a leopard gecko and a Tegu Lizard when she closed the business. Only three of the animals left behind survived the ordeal.
Former pet shop owner Rebecca McHugh abandoned bearded dragons, a corn snake, a leopard gecko and a Tegu Lizard when she closed the business. Only three of the animals left behind survived the ordeal.

Rebecca ‘Becky’ McHugh has been disqualified from keeping caged exotics, rabbits, reptiles, guinea pigs and caged birds for life, after a prosecution case brought by the RSPCA.

In January 2018, McHugh was convicted in her absence of four offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

The RSPCA was called to Hull Pets and Garden on Beverley Road in June 2018, almost five months after the shop closed.

RSPCA inspector Jilly Dickinson said: “The shop closed down in January, and I attended in June after energy suppliers entered to switch off the supply and found the exotics – it appears they had simply been left behind after the shutters had gone down for the final time.

“Five animals were alive, but only three of these – a corn snake and two bearded dragons – survived.

“The bearded dragons were underweight, and one of them had a horrendous burden of mites, leaving them unable to open their eyes, lethargic, anaemic and dehydrated.

“There was an underweight leopard gecko with long standing metabolic bone disease and subsequent current and historic fractures, and eye problems which were untreatable – meaning that they unfortunately had to be put to sleep.

“A Tegu lizard was described by the vet as being in the worst condition he had ever seen – completely emaciated, dehydrated and lethargic. The Tegu unfortunately didn’t pull through and died not long after coming into our care.”

The surviving animals were signed over to the RSPCA and have now been rehomed.

Sentencing: two-year community order including 250 hours of unpaid work; total of £385 costs and charges. Disqualified for life from keeping caged exotics, rabbits, reptiles, guinea pigs and caged birds.

Hull Daily Mail

Lancaster, Lancashire: Andrew John Rooney

#TheList Andrew John Rooney, born c. 1973, of 26 Mayfield Avenue, Lancaster LA1 2NY – found with two dogs, a cat, a budgie, a hamster and a guinea pig in breach of a 1997 ban on keeping animals.

Serial animal abuser Andrew John Rooney breached a previous ban.
Serial animal abuser Andrew John Rooney breached a previous ban.

Serial animal abuser Andrew John Rooney admitted breaching the lifelong disqualification between January 17, 2016, and July 17, 2018, by keeping two dogs, known as Shadow and Max, a cat known as Magic, alongside a bird, hamster and guinea pig.

Serial animal abuser Andrew John Rooney breached a previous ban.

Rooney pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to one of the dogs, a Labrador, by failing to seek adequate veterinary treatment for her skin condition between February and April 27, 2018.

14 -week jail term, suspended for two years; rehabilitation activity requirement; 150 hours of unpaid work. Total of £615 costs and charges.

Lancashire Post

Dewsbury, West Yorkshire: Rachel Louise Goodwin

#TheList Rachel Louise Goodwin, aged 29, from Broomer Street, Dewsbury WF13 –  found guilty in her absence of five cases of animal abuse after four rabbits and two guinea pigs were found dead at her home.

Convicted pet abuser Rachel Louise Goodwin from Dewsbury
Rachel Louise Goodwin starved rabbits and guinea pigs to death and didn’t even have the decency to turn up for her court hearing

Single mother-of-seven Goodwin was convicted after four rabbits and two guinea pigs kept at her home were found dead. She was due to appear before Kirklees Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 15/8/18 but failed to attend so the case was heard in her absence.

Goodwin was found guilty of one count of causing unnecessary suffering and four counts of failing to meet the needs of the animals under the Animal Welfare Act.

The animals were discovered when a fifth rabbit, named Ginger, was found sitting under a car on Broomer Street on 2nd January 2018 and was picked up by an RSPCA officer.

Further enquiries led the officer to Goodwin’s address. Kris Walker, RSPCA Inspector, said: “My colleague went to Goodwin’s house to see if the rabbit belonged to her but soon became concerned and I and the police attended.

“We were faced with an absolutely heartbreaking scene; the dead rabbits and guinea pigs were in hutches in the garden, some were much more decomposed than others so clearly some of them had been living there alongside the bodies.

“Veterinary evidence suggested one of the rabbits, called Spike, had been dead for around three days, while rabbits Rihanna and Selena had been dead for as little as 24 hours.

“Half of guinea pig Tinkerbell’s body was missing so it was impossible to say how long Tinkerbell had been dead.”

Inspector Walker added: “The hutches were absolutely filthy and there was no food or water.”

“We presume that Ginger was loose and therefore had access to grass which is probably the reason for this rabbit’s survival.”

Ginger was signed over to the RSPCA and has since been rehomed.

Yorkshire Evening Post

Bournemouth, Dorset: Charmaine Collins

#TheList Charmaine Victoria Louise Collins, born 02/01/1990, of Rosebery Road, Southborne, Bournemouth BH5 2JH – let 61 animals die in her maggot-infested flat

Hoarder Charmaine Collins from Bournemouth and some images from the scene of horror that confronted the RSPCA.
Hoarder Charmaine Collins from Bournemouth and some images from the scene of horror that confronted the RSPCA.

Mother-of-one Collins crammed 196 animals including cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils and lizards as well as ducks and chickens in to her two-bedroom flat at 25 Hamilton Road in Boscombe before she was raided by police and the RSPCA. Some animals had gone without water and food for at least a week. Of the 196 animals, 61 died.

The court heard that Collins, who had started a degree in veterinary care, had established an animal breeding business called Fairytales with a friend. However, the friend backed out around two weeks before the flat was raided.

Officials found 48 animals in a small shed in the property’s communal garden. Many of the creatures inside – including 30 guinea pigs – were dead at the time, or died shortly afterwards.

Entry was then forced to the flat, which was in darkness and without electricity. As RSPCA inspector Patrick Bailey panned a torch around the dark rooms, the beam fell on a severely dehydrated rabbit, which was “convulsing”.

Officers were cofonfronted with loosely-stacked crates and cages filled with animals and smaller creatures suffocating in plastic containers.

More rabbits were confined to these containers, unable to move in any direction.

An animal carcass infested with maggots was also discovered. Decomposition indicated the creature had been dead for some time.

The RSPCA had first become involved with Collins in April 2016 over “similar issues”. At that time, Collins sought help from officials and some months later had just two dogs and a lizard.

However, she then began buying animals from fairs and shows. Ten days after she was interviewed by police, she travelled to Holland to buy 70 rodents. All have now been seized by the RSPCA.

Collins, who currently works as an assistant for Poole photography business Lite-Box Imagery,  admitted six charges relating to the care of the animals.

Sentence: 12-month community order and 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days; total of £330 costs and charges. Banned from keeping any animal for the next 10 years (expires July 2028).

Daily Echo
Daily Mail

Llanishen, Cardiff: Barbara Herbert

#TheList Barbara Herbert, age unknown, of 2 Beverley Close, Llanishen, Cardiff CF14 0RL – kept 29 guinea pigs in squalor

Guinea pigs lived in squalor at Barbara Herbert's filthy home in Llanishen, Cardiff

Barbara Herbert was banned for keeping animals for 10 years after 29 guinea pigs were found living on a pile of filth in a “squalid” bedroom.

More than a foot-and-a-half of straw and debris was piled up in the “squalid” room where the guinea pigs were being kept.

The conditions were so bad RSPCA staff had to wear breathing equipment to go into the bedroom.

It took them a day to clear the room.

Herbert admitted causing unnecessary suffering to the animals during August 2017.

The animals were found living in a 1.5ft (45cm) high pile of straw and debris that took RSPCA officers an entire day to clear.

A few of the guinea pigs died, but the charity is caring for the remainder and hopes to rehome them soon.

RSPCA inspector Christine McNeil said: “These 29 guinea pigs were kept in an upstairs bedroom in a squalid and entirely inappropriate environment.

“Fortunately, we were able to intervene and most of the guinea pigs now have a second chance of happiness in a new forever home.”

Two-year conditional discharge; £320 in fines and costs. Banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

BBC News
Wales Online

Sheepridge, Huddersfield: Stephen Emsley

#TheList Stephen Emsley, born c. 1969, of 43 Riddings Road, Huddersfield HD2 1HL – caught on camera as he tortured rabbits and guinea pigs

Sadistic animal abuser Stephen Emsley from Huddersfield and two rabbits he battered to death.

Stephen Emsley admitted two offences under the Animal Welfare Act and was convicted of a further five after a trial at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court in Huddersfield.

Emsley was witnessed by a neighbour slamming two  defenceless rabbits to the ground before discarding their bodies in a bin.

He was also seen slapping another rabbit 16 times, slamming the heads of two pets into each other and forcibly plucking the hairs from a guinea pig.

The court heard that Emsley was given the responsibility of caring for 13 rabbits and four guinea pigs after his partner left him,

He was witnessed hurting some of them over a two day period in July 2017 by his neighbour Margaret Lloyd. She described how she saw him remove one of the rabbits from a hutch in the garden, slap it to the body twice and then hit it a further four times before throwing it head first into the hutch.

The same day he returned to the hutch and selected two smaller rabbits.

Sadistic animal killer Stephen Emsley from Huddersfield.

Andrew Davidson, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said: ‘He held a rabbit in each hand, bit one of them and then used the head of one of the rabbits to hit the other rabbit in its body.

‘Then he walked towards the hutch where he left the previous rabbit and slammed both of the rabbits’ bodies together before throwing them head first into the hutch.’

The next day Mrs Lloyd was stood in her kitchen watching TV when she heard a squealing noise coming from the garden. She looked out and saw Emsley taking hold of one of the guinea pigs and ‘repeatedly plucking hair from its back’.

Footage of the pet squealing in pain was captured by Mrs Lloyd, magistrates were told. 

Sadistic animal killer Stephen Emsley from Huddersfield.

RSPCA inspector Catherine Byrnes described what happened as “torture” and said: “The sound of the slaps and the squeals of the guinea pig can be heard on the video shot from inside a neighbouring property.

“The incidents happened over two days in July last year. He was torturing these animals, there’s no other way to describe it.

“It was what happened to two adult rabbits found dead in a bin at his property when we attended that was most upsetting to deal with.

“One of my colleagues described the rabbits as looking as though they had burst, such was the trauma inflicted to them.

“Though Emsley denies knowing what happened to them, the horrific actions against the two rabbits described by a witness, consistent with the injuries sustained by them and accepted by the court, includes Emsley biting them, smashing them together, banging their heads together and smashing them into the ground.”

Sentencing: 20-week suspended jail term; 16-week curfew; total of £615 costs and charges. Banned from keeping animals indefinitely.


Llandysul, Ceredigion, Wales: Alexander & Victoria Grice

#TheList Alexander Kyle Grice, born c. 1966, and Victoria Louisa Kyle Grice, born c. 1968, of Llwyncelyn, Glanarthan, Llandysul SA44 6PL – for cruelty towards dogs, a rabbit and a guinea pig

Brother and sister Alexander and Victoria Grice were both convicted on 12 counts of animal cruelty following a two-day trial in September 2017.

The case was brought by the RSPCA and both defendants had denied all the charges.

Among the offences of which they were jointly convicted were failing to protect a basset hound named Bertie from pain, suffering or disease. Bertie was underweight, in poor condition and not living in a suitable environment.

The pair were also found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a bichon frise dog named Bella, who was underweight, suffering from severe dental disease, skin disease, mammary tumours and an ear infection.

The pair were also found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to treat flea infestations, skin, eye and ear infections for various dogs and to causing unnecessary suffering to a rabbit and a guinea pig.

Sentencing: Community orders – Alexander Grice failed to comply with this and in June 2018 was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail. Victoria Grice’s order was later revoked on health grounds. Total of £585 costs and charges each. Three-year ban on keeping animals.

Tivyside Advertiser

Stoke-on-Trent: Tonya Haughton and daughter Carmen Lyth

#TheList Tonya Haughton (DOB 26/11/80) and daughter Carmen Lyth (DOB 21/6/99), both of Blakelow Road, Abbey Hulton, Stoke-on-Trent ST2 – kept dozens of guinea pigs and rabbits in shocking conditions

Tonya Haughton and daughter Carmen Lyth of Stoke on Trent kept dozens of animals in shocking conditions. RSPCA inspectors found 42 dead animals and one year own 28 more were found.
Tonya Haughton and daughter Carmen Lyth of Stoke on Trent kept dozens of animals in shocking conditions. RSPCA inspectors found 42 dead animals and one year own 28 more were found.

Carmen Lyth (pictured) and her mother Tonya Laughton pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to 11 guinea pigs and four rabbits.

The RSPCA was contacted by the Stoke-on-Trent City Council in April 2017 after a council employee became concerned about smells coming from a property in Trowbridge Crescent, Bentilee, where the pair were living at the time.

When an RSPCA inspector attended, she found 42 dead guinea pigs wrapped in puppy training pads in a hutch in the garden, and two bags of dead guinea pigs inside the house.

There were also emaciated rabbits in the garden, and the house was covered in faeces.

Overall, Haughton and Lyth had around 130 animals in the house.

RSPCA inspector Charlotte Melvin said: “There were four cages of guinea pigs in the living room and more guinea pigs kept outside in the garden. There were even more cages dotted around the house.

“We found a dead guinea pig inside the property and when we asked what happened, we were told that the guinea pig was dying that morning but that they hadn’t had time to deal with it.

“The conditions inside the house were shocking and the animals were in terrible states. The rabbits which we found in the garden were so thin that it was a surprise they were still alive.

“It really was such a shock to see animals being kept in this way. It is clear that the animals had been deteriorating for some time and it should never have got to this point.”

The RSPCA had 57 surviving animals signed over to them, who will be rehomed.


Haughton –  12-week suspended sentence.  Disqualified from keeping animals for life.

Lyth – 18-month conditional discharge.  Disqualified from keeping animals for just 5 years (expires November 2022).

Stoke Sentinel


On 11 September 2018 the Stoke-on-Trent Live news site reported that the horrified new tenant of the property had found 28 dead guinea pigs wrapped in puppy pads and buried in shallow graves in her back garden. These were in addition to the 42 found by the RSPCA last year.