Pair banned from keeping pets after cats found in 'very soiled' conditions
- Credit: RSPCA
A Waveney couple have been banned from keeping animals for five years after being found guilty of mistreating four cats.
The man and woman from Lowestoft were found guilty of repeatedly leaving their cats unattended and ignoring advice despite warnings from the RSPCA.
Michael Ian Mark Driver, of Raglan Street in the town, pleaded guilty to two animal welfare offences of failing to meet the needs of his two cats Sparkle and Marble, contrary to the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
While Bethany Alice Wildman, of Lowestoft High Street, also pleaded guilty to two offences of failing to meet the needs of a further two cats called HJ and Shadow.
Both were sentenced at Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court last week (May 31) where in addition to the five year disqualification from keeping all animals, they were fined £120 and ordered to pay £120 costs each, together with a £34 victim surcharge.
The RSPCA was alerted to the plight of the four cats that had been left unattended in the flat in the High Street last year.
The charity's officers tried to engage with the pair, visiting their flat and placing seal tapes across the door to monitor if anyone was looking after the animals.
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Tapes found the cats were left unattended on four occasions ranging from 24 hours to over 48 hours.
Photos and footage were taken through the letterbox to try and assess the cats’ conditions.
On each occasion the cats could be heard meowing loudly and clawing at the door for food.
They were given pouches of cat food through the letterbox due to concerns that they were not being fed which they snatched from the officers' hands.
The pair continued to ignore contact attempts from the RSPCA until at last contact was made with Driver who claimed a friend was feeding the cats.
Police managed to get Driver to meet with them and RSPCA inspector Amy Pellegrini, who led the investigation for the charity.
The court heard how conditions inside the property were poor with inspectors saying it was "dark and cold and there was mess everywhere", with three "very soiled and dirty" litter trays.
It was agreed the cats would be removed and a warning notice was issued advising the animals could not be returned to that flat until the environment was clean and the cats were fed.
The RSPCA offered to rehome the cats but this offer was declined and the cats were taken to the two new addresses by the couple who moved into separate properties.
Driver moved into Victoria Arcade, in Great Yarmouth with Sparkle and Marble but the pets were later found abandoned in the property.
Meanwhile Wildman moved into a friend’s property with HJ and Shadow but she later returned the pair back to the flat in High Street, Lowestoft against the advice of the RSPCA.
Despite the previous advice issued, the RSPCA soon received another call after Christmas about the pets being left unattended.
The RSPCA were again able to prove the cats were not being attended to and described the conditions they were living in as "filthy".
There were no signs of any food or water within Driver’s flat and inspector Pellegrini saw the cats were underweight and hungry.
The animals were seized by police and placed into RSPCA care.
Inspector Pellegrini said: “I believed the cats were starving due to the scratches at the door and the loud noises they were making.
"It was claimed the flat was being visited everyday but we were able to prove that this simply was not true.
"No-one was attending consistently each day and the behaviour of the cats was worrying.
"Each time the cats were fed through the letterbox they tried to take the pouches of cat food due to their desperation.”