23 June 2022

A Midwest woman, who left a kitten locked in her unit without access to food or water for several days, has been fined $2000 and banned from owning animals for three years.

The 33-year-old pleaded guilty to a charge of animal cruelty in the Geraldton Magistrates Court today.

The RSPCA received a report about the kitten and attended the Bluff Point property on 5 January. The inspector heard a kitten crying and spotted the 10- to 12-week-old tortoiseshell cat pacing back and forth in front of an upstairs window.  Neighbours said the owner had been way for at least four days.

The inspector tried to contact the unit’s occupant several times but couldn’t get through, so she obtained a warrant to enter the property, which she did with help from a locksmith.

Inside, the inspector saw there was no food or water available to the kitten upstairs. In the kitchen downstairs, there was an empty can of tuna with a small opening sitting on the bench, an ice-cream container of spoiled milk on the floor, and the tap was slowly flowing into the sink.

The kitchen bench was around one metre high, and the inspector determined the kitten was too young to be able to jump up on to it to access the water and, even if she could, her head was too big to fit into the hole in the tuna can.

The kitten, who the inspector named Darla, was seized and taken to a local vet, where she was found to be dehydrated and underweight. Darla made a full recovery and is currently being looked after by an RSPCA WA foster carer. 

          RSPCA rescue kitten Darla on her foster carer   RSPCA rescue kitten Darla snoozing on the couch in foster care..

RSPCA WA Inspector Manager Kylie Green said the outcome for Darla could easily have turned tragic.

‘Darla was completely reliant on her owner for everything she needed,’ she said.

‘I’m so thankful to the person who alerted RSPCA WA to Darla’s neglect. That call likely saved her life and will give her that second chance to be a loved member of someone’s family.

‘In the lead-up to school holidays, when unfortunately, we do see a spike in abandonment reports, I hope this case can serve as a reminder to other pet owners.

‘It’s never OK to leave your pet at home alone without proper care. Arrange a pet sitter, book your animal into boarding, or, at the very least, organise someone to check on them daily, ensuring they have adequate food, water, and company.'

The offender was found to have breached sections 19(1) and 19(3)(d) of the Animal Welfare Act 2002 by failing to provide Darla with proper and sufficient food and water.  

She was also ordered to pay total costs of $444.12. Darla was forfeited to RSPCA WA. 

RSPCA WA thanked Midwest Veterinary Centre 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.