20 October 2021

A mother and daughter from Perth’s southern suburbs have been banned from owning pets for the rest of their lives after pleading guilty to a total of 14 charges of animal cruelty.

The charges relate to 10 cats, seized by the RSPCA last year after they were found to be living in appalling conditions.

A 47-year-old Champion Lakes woman was fined a total of $16,000 while her 72-year-old mother, also of Champion Lakes, was fined a total of $12,000. Each woman was ordered to pay $2000 immediately with the rest of the financial penalty suspended for 12 months.

The 47-year-old offender was also ordered to pay costs of $6258.73.

While each of the offenders received a lifetime pet ownership ban as part of their sentence, the court ruled they were able to keep their existing pets—each has a dog, and the older offender also has a pet bird.

Laundry where cats were being keptThe Armadale Magistrates Court heard that on 27 April 2020, a WA Police officer was at a home in Thornlie investigating an alleged attempted burglary, when he saw the laundry door was sealed with tape. When the officer cut through the tape and opened the door, he was immediately hit by a putrid smell.

In the laundry were four cats, each in a separate cage that contained newspaper covered in an exceptionally large amount of faeces and urine. The officer held his breath and ran into and out of the laundry several times to takes photos while dry heaving due to the smell.

Bottom of cat cages were covered in thick layers faecesThe officer reported the cats’ living conditions to the RSPCA and an inspector obtained a search warrant.

Two RSPCA WA inspectors went to the Thornlie house the next day, accompanied by WA Police. The cats were no longer at the property and the 47-year-old offender, who was at the Thornlie home, denied owning them.

After speaking to the woman, the RSPCA obtained a warrant to search a Champion Lakes property and attended with WA Police and City of Armadale rangers.

Cat cages were kept in a dirty, sealed laundry room.The 72-year-old offender said her daughter owned the cats from the Thornlie house and that they had been moved into a stable at the Champion Lakes home.

The RSPCA found the four cats, each in a crate with soiled newspaper at the base. Two of the crates were infested with maggots; three of the cats had no water.

A further search of the property revealed more cats in varying degrees of health and cleanliness, and in various living conditions.

An examination by RSPCA vets found they were suffering from a range of untreated conditions including feline Coronavirus, dental disease, skin conditions, cat flu and osteoarthritis.

Cats were being kept in filthy cages  A cat being kept in a filthy cage

Most have since recovered following care and medical treatment by the RSPCA however, three cats collected from the property were euthanised on humane grounds.

RSPCA WA Executive Manager Animal & Enforcement Operations, Hannah Dreaver, said unfortunately this case wasn’t an uncommon scenario.

'People think they’re doing the right thing by ‘rescuing’ a large number of cats but it can quickly become overwhelming and the cats are the ones left to suffer,' Hannah said.

'The living conditions these cats endured were appalling and they weren’t getting the socialisation, food, water or medical care they needed.

'It would have been a terrible existence and most of them would have been experiencing pain of some kind.

'Our animals are a responsibility that needs to be taken seriously.

'I urge people to think long and hard before getting a pet to ensure they can comfortably provide for all their needs.'

Hannah thanked WA Police and City of Armadale rangers for their assistance in this case.

The RSPCA relies on the community to report incidents of suspected cruelty and neglect. Report cruelty 24/7 on 1300 CRUELTY (1300 278 358) or online here