A couple who kept 34 cats and seven dogs in a small caravan in Kirbymoorside, North Yorkshire have been jailed for four months by Halifax magistrates.
William Cannon and Angela Edwards pleaded guilty yesterday to 15 charges of causing unnecessary suffering to and failing to meet the needs of the animals. The couple most recently lived at Todmorden Cricket Club Caravan Park, Todmorden, Halifax.
The court heard how six of the dogs and 34 cats were found living with the couple in a two-birth caravan on a camp site in Hutton-le-Hole, Kirbymoorside. The seventh dog was being kept outside the caravan in a small cage.
RSPCA inspector Mark Gent first visited the caravan on 17 May 2007 where he discovered 10 cats loose in the caravan together with six dogs. The remaining 24 cats were found stacked in a number of small cages, also inside the caravan.
The animals were subsequently removed and taken to an independent vet who confirmed they were all suffering due to the conditions they had been kept in. They were later signed over to the RSPCA to be rehabilitated and re-homed.
Shortly afterwards the couple absconded but, thanks to vital information received through a number of RSPCA appeals on the BBC television programme 'Crimewatch', they were soon found at another caravan park in Todmorden, Halifax. Inspector Gent visited the site in January 2007 together with local police officers, and the couple were arrested.
Yesterday, they pleaded guilty before magistrates to 15 charges of causing unnecessary suffering and failure to meet the needs of all the animals, contrary to sections four and nine of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Both received a lifetime disqualification from keeping any animal with a restriction of 10 years from making an application to the court to have it removed. They also received a four-month immediate custodial sentence.
In mitigation, the court was told the couple provided the best level of care they could considering their 'nomadic' lifestyle.
RSPCA inspector Mark Gent said: "This sentence reflects the serious nature of this offence. The suffering these animals endured was needless and unnecessary and I am very pleased the court has recognised the extent of the cruelty involved in this case. The lifetime disqualification from keeping all animals will hopefully prove an effective measure to prevent animals suffering at their hands in the future.
"This conviction was secured as the result of information passed on to us through a number of appeals on 'Crimewatch'. I would like to thank all those involved and in particular the member of the public who provided the ensuing information."
Note to editors:
Pictures are available to accompany this release. Please contact either the national press office on 0300 123 0244 or Sophie Corless in the RSPCA North regional press office, and credit RSPCA if used.
RSPCA Inspector Mark Gent is available for interview on request.