Tag Archives: self-neglect

Rosyth, Fife: Helen Burt

#TheList Helen Burt, born 04/01/1992, previously of Elder Place, Rosyth, and now Cairns Street East, Kirkcaldy KY1 – kept three Staffordshire bull terriers in squalid conditions

Convicted dog abuser Helen Burt from Rosyth, near Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, is banned from keeping animals for a mere five years.
Convicted dog abuser Helen Burt from Rosyth, near Dunfermline, Fife, is banned from keeping animals for a mere five years.

Burt let the dogs, Codi, Mali and Shakira, live in a filthy home surrounded by their own excrement and failed to take them outside to do the toilet.

At Dunfermline Sheriff Court she pled guilty to a charge under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, after failing to provide the dogs with a suitable environment or to meet their needs, between January 11 and 25, 2018.

Two of the three dogs rescued from Helen Burt's filthy home.
Two of the three dogs rescued from Helen Burt’s filthy home.

The charge detailed how her treatment of the dogs would have caused them psychological suffering and put them at risk of injury and disease.

They were exposed to urine, faeces and household debris including open tin cans and broken furniture.

Burt failed to provide adequate water and ventilation for the animals, left them in an unhygienic environment and failed to allow them to exhibit normal behaviour.

She also neglected to take the dogs outside to defecate or urinate.

Conditions in which Helen Burt kept three dogs
Conditions inside Burt’s house

Animal welfare charity Scottish SPCA investigated the case.

Scottish SPCA inspector Sarah Gregory said: “The living environment for these animals was cramped and filthy.

“The entire property was uninhabitable and appeared to have been used as a kennel rather than a home.

“The smell was an overwhelming stench of ammonia, dirt and faeces that made your eyes water. Faeces were trodden into the floor with fresh matter on top.

“There was litter and broken furniture throughout the property.”

Helen Burt kept two of the dogs inside this filthy cage with no bedding.
The female dogs were kept in this cage with no bedding.

She said the female dogs, Shakira and Mali, were found in a cage in the living room, with no bedding or resting area.

All of the dogs appeared in good body condition, despite the living environment and high risk of disease due to the contamination in the house.

“Not allowing the dogs adequate opportunities to toilet outside the house meant the dogs would be caused stress and potential mental suffering by having to toilet in the same area as they were confined to for sleeping and eating,” she added.

“Burt did not sign the dogs over into our care which meant that we’ve been caring for them for almost two years. As they are part of a case, we’ve been unable to rehome them until this conclusion. It has cost the society almost £30,000 to care for Codi, Mali and Shakira.

“We welcome the outcome of this case. It was clear that Burt was not able to provide these animals with even the most basic of care.”

Sentencing: community payback order with supervision and a requirement to do 100 hours of unpaid work within six months. Five-year ban on keeping dogs.

Dunfermline Press

Sauchie, Clackmannanshire: Susan Hume

#TheList Susan Hume, born 26/02/1974, of 77 Rosebank, Sauchie, near Alloa FK10 3NR – kept a dog and cat in foul conditions.

Susan Hume kept border collie Jake and ginger tabby Simba in a squalid flat coated in animal waste and broken furniture.

Shocking photographs showed faeces caked onto the wooden floorboards, which were soaked in urine – so much so the dogs’ paws were burnt.

Conditions inside the flat where Susan Hume kept her dog and cat were described as "horrendous".
Conditions inside the flat where Susan Hume kept her dog and cat were described as “horrendous”.

Rubbish could be seen piled up in the flat, where the animals were exposed to sharp objects and medication as well as cigarette smoke.

The Scottish SPCA launched an investigation and Hume was taken to court accused of failing to meet the needs of the animals in her care under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.

Conditions inside the flat where Susan Hume kept her dog and cat were described as "horrendous".

The court imposed a disqualification order on Hume keeping dogs but suspended this for 12 months. No charges were brought for the cat. Both animals were, therefore, returned to Hume – a decision slated by the Scottish SPCA.

Scottish SPCA inspector Nicola Liddell said: “This case gives out a confusing message.

“To be banned from owning dogs and not the cat, along with being able to get her animals back, highlights the inconsistency among sentencing.

“The living conditions of both Jake and Simba were absolutely horrendous.

“The house was so dirty that Jake’s coat was matted with faeces and his feet were badly scalded due to prolonged contact with the damp, urine soaked floor.

“Simba the cat had regular access to the outdoors so was not affected in the same way.

“Both animals smelled strongly of cigarette smoke and urine.

“As a result of our enquiries, we removed Jake and Simba from the premises.

“While we respect the decision of the court we are disappointed by this sentence.

“Due to this, the animals will be returned to her.

“We hope that Hume now fully ensures the welfare of both Jake and Simba and will seriously consider whether she can adequately provide for any animal in the future.”

Sentencing: 12-month community payback order. Disqualified from keeping dogs but the order was suspended for 12 months.

Scottish SPCA News
Daily Record

Hartcliffe, Bristol: Pamela Coombes

#TheList cat hoarder Pamela J Coombes, born c. 1967, of 114 Gatcombe Road, Bristol BS13 9RG – neglected dozens of cats in her care and kept them in foul conditions

Bristol hoarder Pamela Coombes kept dozens of cats in filthy, unhygienic conditions
Bristol hoarder Pamela Coombes kept dozens of cats in filthy, unhygienic conditions

In August 2018 police raided Pamela Coombes’ house after her neighbours called the RSPCA and she repeatedly refused to let them in to look around.

Inside, police officers and RSPCA inspectors found what they described as unhygienic and unsuitable for the number of cats.

Many of the cats were found to be suffering from cat flu, dental disease and flea infestations.

An RSPCA spokeswoman said: “Cats were immediately removed from the premises because of the conditions they were being kept, with some found to have discharge from their eyes and nose, some in poor body condition, and several sneezing.

“Vets who assessed the cats found many to be suffering from cat flu, dental disease and flea infestations.

“Conditions in Coombes’ home were described as being unhygienic and unsuitable for animals, with a lack of provision for the number of cats confined in the space,” she added.

District Judge Anthony Callaway said there was no evidence that Coombes had been “deliberately cruel” to the cats and her actions were borne out of “a desire to help too many animals to the extent that the care of others may be jeopardized by further additions and cruelty, not inflicted deliberately, but on the contrary, cruelty borne of kindness.”

Sentencing: Coombes was found guilty of five separate animal welfare offences and given a two-year conditional discharge. She was banned from keeping cats for just three years. All of her cats were handed over into the care of the RSPCA.


Wishaw, North Lanarkshire: Gale Maitland

#TheList Gale Elizabeth Maitland, born 15/02/1967 of Carbarns West, Wishaw ML2 0DE – kept cats and a dog in fly- and faeces-infested conditions

Convicted animal abuser Gale Maitland kept animals in horrific conditions in her filthy home
Maitland is now banned from keeping dogs for life

Following a tip-off from a concerned postal worker, Scottish SPCA inspectors attended Gale Maitland’s home and were confronted with a scene of horror, with five cats and a dog living in the foulest of conditions.

Maitland admitted two charges of failing to admit the needs of the animals.

Depute fiscal Abby Seal said: “In March police received an anonymous call from a Royal Mail worker who had attended at the locus during her shift and noticed the door lying ajar.

“The caller believed the house had been trashed and wanted to make a report because the house was in a state of disarray and she could see a dog in a cage in a distressed state.

“The house was in an extremely unsanitary state and in complete disarray and there was an overpowering, pungent smell of urine being intensified by the central heating.

“Inspectors from the SPCA found the hall and stairway full of clothing, bin bags, rubbish and half-eaten takeaway boxes.

“Several cats were seen eating mouldy food from takeaway boxes.

“Throughout the property there was animal faeces and urine on the furniture.

“In the kitchen there was a tan crossbreed dog in a crate on the floor which was in a distressed state and the crate was described as being in a horrendous state and totally unsuitable for a dog to caged within it.

“The crate had a deep build-up of faeces and food which was several inches high.

“A downstairs toilet was being used as a large waste area with bin bags stacked on top of each other 6ft high.

“There was an overpowering smell of ammonia coming from three cat litter trays and it was described by inspectors as the worst litter trays they had seen.

“The master bedroom was in a similar state to the rest of the house and a small cat was observed eating from a partially eaten pizza box.

“Photographs were taken of each animal and they were taken to the Lanarkshire rehoming centre.”

Kauser Iqbal, defending, said: “There was no deliberate intent on her part relating to these offences.

“She was under an extreme amount of stress with the health of her father and long hours that she was working.

“The wake up call for her was when the animals were taken away by officers from the SPCA.

“She has taken significant steps in the property and has replaced every item of furniture and carpet inside.

“This wasn’t a deliberate or planned course of action and she has been extremely stressed over these proceedings.”

Two of the cats known as ‘Chance’ and ‘Loki’ will be returned to Maitland but the other three will be re-homed along with the dog.

Sentencing: 240 hours of unpaid work. Banned from keeping dogs for life.

The Sun

Camborne, Cornwall: Maria Warren

#TheList Maria Warren, born 15/04/1966, of Parc An Tansys, Tansys, Camborne TR14 7PH – kept a dog and two cats in squalid conditions

Maria Warren allowed her pets to live in filth and surrounded by clutter.

Maria Warren was found guilty, in her absence, at an earlier hearing and was brought back to the court on warrant for sentencing.

The RSPCA had issued a warning notice to Warren on 3 May 2019, explaining that her pets were not living in a suitable environment. Warren failed to follow the charity’s advice and later denied access to them, causing concern for the welfare of the animals inside.

On June 7, 2019, a warrant was executed by the police where two cats, known as Midge and Smudge, and a dog, known as Finlay, were rescued.

Subsequent examination by a veterinary surgeon concluded that Midge was suffering as he was underweight, with extensive fur loss, scabbing and live fleas.

Conditions inside Maria Warren's home in Camborne, Cornwall.
Conditions inside Maria Warren’s home

RSPCA Inspector Paul Kempson said: “The ground floor living room and kitchen were extremely messy with what appeared to be bags of general rubbish covering all of the floor area to a depth of about two feet.

“This rubbish was also covered in what appeared to be cat and dog faeces in various places. The kitchen was in a state of complete disarray with rubbish all over the floor, every work surface and the sink was piled high with unwashed dishes.

“Throughout the ground floor there were many hazards for the dog and cats inside the property, including empty dog and cat food tins all over the place.

“This case highlights how pet owners must follow advice, or seek help and support if they are struggling to cope with a situation they find themselves in.

“By failing to do this, and by displaying incompetent care, these animals were found in these awful conditions.”

In mitigation, the court heard that this was well intended but incompetent care and that the neglect of the animals was not deliberate.

Sentencing: ordered to pay £300 Banned from keeping animals for life with right of appeal after three years.


Millom, Cumbria: Alison Chesterman

#TheList Alison Maria Chesterman, born 16/03/1965. of Victoria Street, Millom Cumbria LA18 5AS – failed to treat her pet dog’s flea infestation

Convicted animal abuser Alison Chesterman pictured outside court
Alison Chesterman kept several cats and a dog in her filthy, flea-infested home. She also failed to treat the dog’s numerous ailments.

Chesterman was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to her dog, known as Doodles, who was badly affected by flea bites.

RSPCA inspectors who visited Chesterman’s home found that Doodles had extensive fur loss and his skin had become inflamed and darkened. Veterinary examination showed that he was also suffering a heart murmur, arthritis, conjunctivitis and a chronic skin condition.

Doodles was neglected by Alison Chesterman
Doodles was suffering from a painful untreated skin condition but has since recovered in the care of the RSPCA

He was living in an unhygienic environment which smelled of animal faeces and ammonia. Nine cats were also removed from the property

The court heard RSPCA inspectors visited the house a number of times following an anonymous tip-off and urged Chesterman to take Doodles to the vet.

Eventually, Doodles was taken to a vet by the RSPCA after inspectors found Chesterman still had not acted on urgent advice to do so.

Chesterman, who represented herself in court, said she had tried to rehome her dog so Doodles could live away from her flea-infested home but had not found anyone to take him.

Sentencing: four-week curfew. Banned from keeping any animals for just two years.

The Mail

Rochdale, Greater Manchester: Scott Buik

#TheList Scott Andrew Buik, born 30 September 1991, of Mellor Street, Rochdale OL11 – starved two dogs and a cat to death.

Scott Andrew Buik from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, left two dogs and a cat to starve to death

Scott Andrew Buik was found guilty of four animal welfare offences.

An RSPCA investigation began after Buik took an emaciated white and brindle Staffordshire bull terrier, known as Buster, to a vet on November 12th, 2018.

Scott Andrew Buik from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, left two dogs and a cat to starve to death

Buik told the vet that Buster had become unwell that morning, but on examination it was clear the dog had been starved. He weighed just 11kg, which is around half of what a healthy dog of Buster’s breed should weigh.

The vet examined the dog and saw that he was gravely ill. He was unable to lift his head and was emaciated, with all his bones protruding.

The vet put the stricken dog to sleep to end his suffering.

Concerned that Buster’s condition was caused by neglect, the vet contacted the RSPCA and inspectors Natalie Taylor and Nina Small visited Buik’s house that afternoon.

Buik invited Inspector Taylor inside and showed her a cage where Buster had been kept in the kitchen.

Next to this was another cage covered in a pink blanket and when she touched the blanket it was so full of fleas, it was moving.

When Inspector Taylor removed the blanket she was horrified to discover the emaciated body of a Labrador-cross dog called Scarlett.

Scott Andrew Buik from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, left two dogs and a cat to starve to death. Photo shows body of crossbreed Scarlett.
Starved crossbreed Scarlett was skin and bone

This dog was severely underweight and her rib cage, spine, shoulders, and hip bones were prominent. It is believed she died the previous day.

Next, Buik led Inspector Taylor to the cellar of his house where she found the body of tortoiseshell female cat named Tilly. She had been dead for some time as mould was growing on her face.

Buik had claimed he had been looking after Scarlet and Tilly for friends, but while in his care the animals were left to starve.

Scott Andrew Buik from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, left two dogs and a cat to starve to death

Inspector Nina Small said in her 16-year career with the RSPCA this has been one of the most horrific cases she has come across.

She said, “It was awful to see the condition of these animals they must have suffered a long and lingering death because they were denied food.

“They were clearly kept in atrocious conditions where they were locked away and really just left to rot.

“The post mortem reports revealed pieces of plastic and metal in the dogs’ bodies so they had been so hungry they were trying to eat anything they could.

“Withholding food when it was available and leaving these animals to suffer until they died is the most callous thing imaginable.”

Sentencing: 26 week custodial sentence suspended for 12 months; community order with a rehabilitation activity requirement for 20 days and 150 hours of unpaid work. Ordered to pay £1,280 costs and a victim surcharge of £115. Banned from keeping animals for life.

Oldham Chronicle
Manchester Evening News

Swadlincote, Derbyshire: Jenny Johnson

#TheList Jenny Johnson, born 13/02/1975), of Elmsleigh Drive, Midway, Swadlincote DE11 – kept her pet dog and cat in squalor in her filthy home

Jobless Jenny Johnson from Swadlincote has been jailed after keeping her pets in squalid conditions
Jobless Jenny Johnson from Swadlincote has been jailed after keeping her pets in squalid conditions

Jenny Johnson’s pets – Staffy Casper and moggy Riley – were forced to live in a hellish environment with conditions so appalling they made local authority environmental health officers retch when they visited the property.

Flooring throughout the property was covered in piles of animal excrement and saturated with urine. Kitchen worktops and items of furniture including the sofa were caked in filth.

Casper was found to have inflamed paws which a vet confirmed was related to the unhygienic conditions in which he was living.

Jobless Johnson pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to Staffy Casper and Riley the cat by allowing them to foul in her living room.

She then failed to clean up, resulting in the animals living in their own faeces and urine.

She also admitted a second charge of causing unnecessary suffering to the same animals by failing to secure their needs for a suitable environment, their need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns and the need to be protected from pain, suffering injury and disease.

Jenny Johnson's pets Casper and Riley were forced to live in hellish conditions
Jenny Johnson’s pets Casper and Riley were forced to live in hellish conditions

Ruksana Munir, prosecuting for South Derbyshire District Council, told the court: “Council officers entered the property on July 31, 2018, after they were sent a photograph of the condition of the property by the landlord who raised concerns.

“The landlord had let this property to the defendant three years ago and she had a cat and a dog and was concerned about their welfare.

“The defendant did not open the door [as she was out] and the landlord believed something criminal was taking place so exercised her right to unlock the back door, along with council officers.

“The dog was behind the door and walked out when it was opened.

“There was an overpowering foul smell upon entering.

“Officers were actually nauseated by the smell.

“They saw piles of faeces and pools of urine, both fresh and historic, around the house and on the kitchen worktops.

“The animals were living around this stomach-churning sight.”

Mrs Munir added: “There was a lengthy period of time where there was no effort made by the defendant to remove the waste.

“The sofa was heavily soiled and it had been ripped open. It was behaviour consistent with a dog being cooped up in a property for a long period of time.

“The dog is quite strong and with [Johnson’s] mobility issues she could not control the dog on a lead, which indicated she wasn’t going out to walk the dog.”

The court was told that Casper was seized at the time of the raid and Riley, who was not at home, was seized later.

The pets will now be rehomed following the conclusion of the case, having clocked up £3,000 in kennel fees – a cost picked up by the taxpayer.

Following the visit, Johnson was served with a letter in August 2018 but the court heard there were no attempts made by her to clear the waste and there was still urine and faeces in the living room.

The council’s pollution control officers later removed the waste at a cost of £450 which the court was told she is repaying.

It was also revealed that Johnson had previous involvement with council officers for an “identical” matter in 2014.

At that time, the premises was cleaned by the council and she was allowed to keep her dog.

Johnson underwent mental health tests which determined she had capacity to be responsible for her actions but an appropriate adult was asked to sit in for her police interview, the court was told.

The court was told that the legal fees to bring the case to prosecution totalled £5,938, of which £3,000 was kennel fees for both animals.

Chairman of the Bench Mr Hickson jailed Johnson for 12 weeks, telling her: “This one of the worst cases we have ever seen.

“Words fail us.

“It was a scene of horror, so stomach-churning that the officers were wretching.

“This was a prolonged period and what makes it worse is that it is not the first time.

“There was a cost to the taxpayer of cleaning up this disgusting mess.

“[Following the mental health tests] you are therefore completely responsible for the situation you find yourself in.”

Sentencing: jailed for 12 weeks and ordered to pay costs and charges totalling £3,115. She was banned from keeping animals for life.

Derbyshire Live

Clevedon, 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.

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


Note – 07/12/2018: 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. 

Carluke, North Lanarkshire: Margaret Thomson Forsyth

#TheList Margaret Thomson Forsyth, born 1962, of 9x Unitas Crescent, Carluke, North Lanarkshire ML8 5AP – breached a 15-year ban on keeping animals imposed in 2006 following a case of appalling pet neglect

Margaret Forsyth from Carluke breached a 15-year ban on keeping animals imposed on her in 2006
Margaret Forsyth from Carluke breached a 15-year ban on keeping animals imposed on her in 2006

In August 2006 Margaret Forsyth was banned from keeping animals for 15 years after admitting to causing suffering to three toy poodle dogs, two of whom had to be destroyed.

Forsyth kept the dogs locked in her kitchen and refused to walk, groom or clip them. The poodles were described as being “in a terrible state” when found living in squalor. All of them had advanced dental problems: their teeth were loose, one poodle’s jaw had disintegrated and another had a hole in the roof of hear mouth. Two of the dogs had to be euthanised to end their suffering.

Forsyth pleaded guilty to causing the dogs unnecessary suffering by failing to provide grooming and veterinary treatment.

Twelve years on and Forsyth was found to have breached her ban after Scottish SPCA officers discovered a 12-year-old Jack Russell dog, a 15-year-old female domestic short haired cat and a budgie at her property.

In December 2018 she was ordered to pay a £360 fine. An additional 21 month disqualification order was add on to her existing 15 year ban, which will now expire around May 2023.

Scottish SPCA news