Halifax couple given life ban on keeping animals after man killed a cat and neglected 18 more

A couple have been banned from keeping animals for life after the man admitted killing his pet cat and 18 others were found at their home in a neglected state.

Friday, 7th January 2022, 10:21 am
Updated Friday, 7th January 2022, 10:22 am

John Fitzgerald, 61, of Malton Street, Halifax, pleaded guilty to a total of six animal welfare offences and Jacqueline Glennon, 46, of the same address pleaded guilty to three animal welfare offences following an RSPCA prosecution.

Bradford Magistrates Court heard how RSPCA inspectors Kris Walker and Nikki Cheetham had been sent to the couple's address on April 1(2021) after receiving reports from a member of the public that Fitzgerald had claimed he had strangled his pet cat called Guinevere.

The person who reported the matter was also concerned about the health of 18 other cats kept at the property.

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Neglected cats found in the property

Kris said when he arrived at the property he asked Fitzgerald: “Can you just confirm that you killed ‘Guinevere’ the cat by snapping her neck on March 31, 2021 - to which he instantly replied yes.”

Kris then went to check on the conditions of the other 18 cats living at the house and were found with various ailments, including flea infestations, skin disease, underweight body conditions and some were suffering from flu-like symptoms.

He said: “I noted six cats in the living room, all were scabby and smelled strongly of urine, and five cats on the second floor that were all underweight and scabby.

“On the top floor of the property I noted more female cats who appeared to be in the worst condition. They were all scabby, full of fleas, had hair loss, breathing issues, were snotty and fluey. All of the cats in the house I noted to have health issues, all of the rooms smelled strongly of ammonia and were dirty, the cats were all scratching and had open sores in various areas and varying degrees of hair loss.”

Neglected cats found in the property

The couple admitted all 18 cats and the dead cat were in their joint care and none were receiving veterinary treatment.

The 18 cats were all signed over into RSPCA care where they were rehabilitated and all have since been rehomed - including one female cat who was heavily pregnant and went on to have six kittens which have also been found forever homes.

The body of Guinevere was found in the bathroom sink. A pathologist report later found she had an obvious tumour which had spread to her lymph nodes and the kidney. It also found that the cat had not been strangled but had died from a blunt force trauma.

The report added: “The tumour is likely to have been rapidly progressive but it would have been a clearly observable mass for a prolonged period before death. The cat will have become progressively weak and required vet evaluation for several months prior to death. The pathologist also comments that is likely to have been very weak at the time of death and also that there was no evidence to confirm that had been strangled. The features suggest that a blunt trauma to the head was the likely cause of death.”

As well as the ban on all animals Fitzgerald was also handed a 12 month Community Order requiring him to carry out 280 hours of unpaid work in the community. He was also ordered to pay £400 costs and a victim surcharge of £95 at the sentencing hearing on December 14.

In mitigation for Fitzgerald the court heard he had no previous convictions and he had served his country in the Army and would be deeply ashamed if he received a prison sentence.

Glennon was also given a life ban on keeping all animals and was ordered to pay £300 costs and a £120 victim surcharge.

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In mitigation the hearing was told Glennon was in poor health, was no longer in a relationship with Fitzgerald and she accepted she could have done more.