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The RSPCA prosecuted after finding the cats and dead kitten living without food and water
Four members of the same family have been banned from keeping animals for life after the RSPCA found a dead kitten and seven starving and underweight cats in a house in Bradford.
All the cats were living in poor conditions at the property in Fernbank Road, where they had no access to food and water. A vet’s examination showed the six-week-old kitten had been bitten by the other cats because they were so desperate for food. The wounds the young cat sustained contributed to his death.
Dawn Mawson (D.o.B 21.05.1973) of Lowfield Road, Tetbury, was convicted of four offences under the Animal Welfare Act and appeared for sentencing at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court on September 13.
Three other members of the family were also sentenced at the hearing. Sabrina Mawson (D.o.B 5.11.1998), also of Lowfield Road, Tetbury, was convicted of the same four offences as her mother.
While Elisha Mawson (D.o.B 28.07.1999), of Wycliffe Gardens, Shipley was convicted of two animal welfare offences and Elizabeth Mawson (D.o.B 5/11.1996), of Durkheim Court, Bradford was convicted of three animal welfare offences after a trial, having initially pleaded not guilty to all three.
The court heard how the body of the kitten was handed over by a former partner of Elizabeth Mawson to RSPCA inspector Kris Walker when he called at the property on August 30, 2019.
The inspector found two cats, Kit and Bubbles, being kept in filthy crates in the kitchen. Kit was stained in urine and very underweight, while Bubbles also had urine stains on his legs. Five other cats, Coco, Molly, Ginger, Bella and Mimi were running loose in the home.
In his witness report, the inspector said: “All five of these cats I could see and feel were emaciated with easily felt ribs, spines and pelvis. All of them were frantically looking for food.”
The cats were examined by a veterinary surgeon, who scored them two or one out of nine in a body condition test, which indicated they were either emaciated or very underweight. Only Bubbles was at a reasonably healthy weight.
The seven cats all made good recoveries in the care of the RSPCA and all of them were rehomed, including those who stayed with their long-term foster carers.
A post-mortem concluded the wounds to the kitten’s neck and head were mostly likely bite marks and combined with his poor body condition were the cause of death.
“The fact that the other cats in the house attacked him (the kitten) is quite unusual and it is possible they had done this as they saw him as a source of much-needed food,” the vet stated in her report. “Luckily, the other cats were removed from the house in time and have gone on to make full recoveries, it was unfortunately too late for the kitten.”
And the vet added: “It was obvious all the cats were in a very poor condition, so any reasonable owner should have noticed this and sought veterinary attention.”
The court was told that Dawn Mawson accepted she had “badly let down” the animals. As well as the ban, she was handed a 12-month community sentence, which requires her to complete 25 rehabilitation activity (RAR) days.
In mitigation, Sabrina Mawson said she was persuaded to take on responsibility for the care of the cats when her sisters moved out of the Bradford property. Her 12-month community order requires her to complete 15 RAR days.
Elisha Mawson, the court was told, was suffering from mental health issues and anxiety at the time. She said she delegated responsibility for the daily care of the cats to her mother and sister. The magistrates also made her subject to a 12-month community order and she has to complete 15 RAR days.
Elizabeth Mawson said she was remorseful for the death of the kitten, who belonged to her. Her 12-month-community sentence requires her to undertake 30 RAR days. All four women will have to pay combined costs and surcharge of £395.
They were told by the magistrates: “It is abundantly clear that the welfare needs of these animals were simply not met. This has been one of the worst cases of animal neglect. Custody was a real option we considered in this case.”
Speaking after the case, RSPCA inspector Walker said: “It was awful the state these cats had been left in and how hungry they were when we took them to the vets.
“It was unsettling that as soon as we gave the first cat some food the others were screaming in hunger waiting to be fed too. Sadly, they were so hungry that they had picked off the weakest link among them.”
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