A Beeston woman who denied causing unnecessary suffering to her underweight cats has lost her appeal against conviction and sentence and had a disqualification order banning her from keeping animals increased from five to seven years.
Donna Adams (DoB 11.05.71), was found guilty of two offences contrary to the Animal Welfare Act 2006 following a trial at Kirklees’ Magistrates Court on 23 February 2023.
She was prosecuted by the RSPCA after eight cats, who were underweight and suffering from eye and dental issues, were discovered at her flat in Tempest Road, Beeston Hill on 14 January 2022 after the charity had received calls about their welfare.
Two of the most underweight cats, Claudia and Barnaby, each weighed only 1.4 kilograms (3.086 pounds) and many of them had conjunctivitis, corneal lesions and dental disease.
Adams’ appeal against her conviction and sentence has now been dismissed following a hearing at Leeds Crown Court on Friday 15 September.
The vet who examined the cats and gave evidence at the trial in February gave the majority of the felines body score conditions of just two or three out of nine.
She said she was highly concerned their basic nutritional needs were not being met and their low body weights suggested they were suffering as a result of a poor diet. Only one cat had been able to obtain enough nutrition to maintain an acceptable condition.
“The significant weight gain and improvement in their body condition once in RSPCA care proved that their previous diet was either unsuitable or of an insufficient quantity,” the court heard. “Failure to provide suitable food would have resulted in the cats suffering from hunger, and this could have been avoided through the provision of proper food, seeking appropriate dietary advice or reaching out to animal welfare charities to assist with rehoming.”
The vet told the court she suspected the cats had suffered for a period of between ‘several weeks and up to two to three months’. Sadly two cats was put to sleep on veterinary advice because of kidney failure, but the remaining six went on to make a good recovery.
In her evidence at the appeal hearing, Adams – who refused to sign any of the animals over – said she had kept cats for over ten years and in her view, they were all well fed and in good condition. She confirmed their feeding regime included two boiled eggs, a slice of bread and some oil, bits of cheese and an occasional tray of chicken and access to biscuits.
She disputed their diet was inadequate, that her cats were in poor condition or that the ocular discharge and dental disease found by the vet were conditions which required specialist intervention. In cross-examination, she conceded that only one cat, Barnaby, had seen the PDSA – which was the day before they were removed – but evidence of other consultations could not be found.
Dismissing the appeal, Judge Simon Phillips KC and two lay magistrates said they were in no doubt as to the evidence in the case, which showed prolonged neglect and harm had been caused to the cats. They said the complete lack of insight shown by Adams led them to believe that her disqualification should be extended in relation to all animals from a period of five years to seven years.
RSPCA inspector Kris Walker, one of the investigating officers, said:
“Adams continued to maintain that her cats were well cared for, despite the overwhelming veterinary evidence to the contrary. A responsible owner would have recognised their pet was not thriving and would have proactively sought professional help and advice.”
This post is based on a press release issued by the RSPCA
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