#TheList junkie Kayleigh Weston, born 1987, of Lucerne Road, Biddulph, Stoke-on-Trent ST8 7FG – left family rabbit to starve to death in her hutch
A police officer went to the defendant’s address and found the rabbit, named Smudge, dead in a hutch filled with droppings. He alerted the RSPCA and an examination found the animal was emaciated.
Roger Price, prosecuting for the RPSCA, told North Staffordshire Justice Centre a police officer visited the defendant’s home on April 14, 2018, and when there was no answer he went to the back of the house.
Mr Price said: “He was alerted to look into a rabbit’s hutch. There was an empty water bottle and an empty food bottle. There were a lot of droppings piled up. There was a lifeless black and white rabbit which was clearly dead.
“The RSPCA became involved and the rabbit was examined. A post mortem examination was carried out. The vet found there was no body fat at all on the animal and a very poor muscle mass. It was emaciated. All the skeletal bones could be seen. It had had diarrhoea and was probably dehydrated.
“The rabbit was significantly underweight. It was clearly ill and in need of veterinary attention.
“The rabbit was totally dependent on the owner to regularly inspect daily and to provide adequate food for the pet. It was estimated to have been dead for between two and four days.”
The defendant, who had owned the rabbit for six years, said she fed Smudge nuggets and carrots between 5pm and 6pm and cleaned the hutch once a week, but on occasions it was longer.
The court heard she last cleaned it out one or two weeks before the officer found the rabbit.
She added she did not think the rabbit was thin.
Weston pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal by failing to explore and address the animal’s poor bodily condition between April 2 and 14, 2018.
The court heard the defendant descended into a chaotic lifestyle due to her drug use.
All her other pets have since been re-homed and she is, apparently, no longer using drugs.
James Hulse, mitigating, said the defendant’s care for the animal was ‘sporadic and incompetent’.
Mr Hulse said: “She threw food into the cage but did not look to see if the rabbit was eating the food properly.
“Had she been to the vet and said, ‘My animal is not eating’. It is that that has not occurred. There was care but it was incompetent.”
Speaking after the case, RSPCA inspector Charlotte Melvin said: “This hutch was at least a few inches deep with faeces. The dead rabbit was found in a second compartment in the hutch. There was no food or water and as the rabbit was so emaciated it became clear that she had starved to death. There wasn’t even any rabbit food in the house.
“This was confirmed by a post mortem, which also showed that Smudge had zero body fat. She said that because Smudge was outside, she forgot about her. It is so sad that it was a case of out of sight, out of mind.
“It is so important to look after pets which are kept outside just as well as you would with pets who live inside your house, particularly as it gets colder and people are going outside in their gardens less.
“On top of that, rabbits have sensitive stomachs and going without food for even just 12 hours can cause them to suffer. The fact that Smudge went without food for so long is unbearable.
“It’s unbelievably cruel to simply leave an animal to slowly die in a cage without the care they need and deserve to survive.”
Fined £240 and ordered to pay costs and charges totalling £330. Disqualified from owning an animal for five years but can apply to have the disqualification terminated after three years.