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Keighley woman banned from keeping caged animals after two rabbits die

Friday, 3 March 2023 15:34

By Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporter

A Keighley woman has been banned from keeping caged animals after two rabbits in her care “clearly suffered prior to their death.”

Jackie Priestley, 55, appeared at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates on Thursday charged with causing unnecessary suffering to two lop eared rabbits.

The prosecution followed an RSPCA visit to her Haynes Street home in November 2021, which took place after a tip off that rabbits had been abandoned in the house.

One rabbit was found dead in the inspection, and the other had to be put down after being found in a “moribund” state.

Mr Brown, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, described the visit. He said: “The defendant allowed access to the premises – the property was cluttered.

“The two rabbits were in small animal transport cages in the front room. The inspector was directed into the living room – but the defendant declined to go in.

“The inspector saw the two rabbits. One was sitting up and seemed disinterested in its environment. He concluded that the other rabbit was deceased.

“When asked why she didn’t want to come into the living room the defendant said she didn’t want to see a dead rabbit.

“She didn’t show any concern that a rabbit had passed away.”

The inspector saw a water bottle on its site, with green algae in the few millimetres of water. The cage was covered in rabbit faeces, there was no roughage available, only the remains of some lettuce.

Mr Brown added: “This was an environment not considered appropriate for rabbits.”

The surviving rabbit was described as being in a “very poor condition” with Mr Brown describing it as “moribund and dehydrated,” severely depressed and suffering bites from another animal.

The rabbit was put down to relieve its suffering.

Mr Brown said: “These animals had not had their needs met for a protracted period. There is clear evidence these animals suffered prior to their death.”

The court heard that Priestley had claimed the rabbits had been “foisted upon her” and she had no choice but to take them in.

Mr Brown said: “She claimed she had done the best she could in the circumstance. She said she was sick of them and didn’t want them.”

Magistrates were told that the RSPCA had previously visited the home in May 2021, when Priestley had the rabbits. She was given advice and literature about how to look after rabbits. Mr Brown said she could have asked for help or for the rabbits to be removed then.

Mr Rehman, defending Priestley, said the rabbits had been dumped on her doorstep. He said Priestley had numerous health conditions, and “would say she did the best she could.”

He added: “Her actions were well intentioned but incompetent.”

Priestley was given a 12-month community order, which will include 15 rehabilitation days.

She was disqualified from keeping any caged animals, rabbits or birds.

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