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Tuesday, April 20, 1999 Published at 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK


Catalogue of cruelty

Convictions for animal cruelty in England and Wales have risen

On the day the RSPCA announces an "alarming" rise in the incidents of cruelty against animals, BBC News Online highlights three cases from last year's long list of abuse recorded by the charity.

The first involved Raquel, a tabby Siamese cat, who was left fighting for her life after being severely scalded by her owner.

The BBC's Tim Hirsch visits some of the patients at Harmsworth Animal Hospital
She also suffered an abdominal prolapse and severe bruising over a two-month period.

A report concluded that she had been subjected to repeated physical trauma resulting in fractured ribs, a probable blood clot swelling in her head, and a fractured leg. She had been scalded on at least two separate occasions.

[ image: Many farm animals are treated cruelly]
Many farm animals are treated cruelly
Alassandro Cedroni, of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, was found guilty of cruelty and sentenced to three months in prison, which was later reduced to two weeks on appeal.

Raquel's owner Gaia Cosulich, 26, who shared a flat with Cedroni, said the seven-year-old Siamese had injured herself running around their cramped home.

She was found guilty of permitting ill treatment to Raquel, and received a two-year conditional discharge. Both she and Cedroni were banned from keeping animals for five years.

Living skeletons

Raquel will have arthritis for the rest of her life following the attacks she suffered. She is still frightened of men, but is making steady progress with her new owner.

In another case in Blackpool, Lancashire, greyhound puppies Libby, Lulu and Prue were forced to eat their dead siblings to survive after six of them were left to starve in an outside kennel.

[ image: The RSPCA wants pets microchipped]
The RSPCA wants pets microchipped
When they were discovered by the RSPCA at three months old, they weighed just half of what they should have weighed and resembled living skeletons.

A vet said the three dead puppies had slowly starved to death, and that the six puppies had suffered through starvation for at least four to five weeks.

Christine Latham, 20, pleaded guilty to six charges of causing unnecessary suffering to the dogs. She was given a 12-month conditional discharge, told to pay £200 costs, and was banned from keeping dogs for three years.

Latham said she had been looking after the dogs for several weeks for her boyfriend who was in prison on remand. She said she had put food out in two washing-up bowls, but had not checked the kennel for two weeks.

Decomposing sheep

In a third case, an RSPCA inspector discovered 50 dead sheep and others dying at a farm in Sussex where guests were celebrating a wedding.

The dead sheep were in various stages of decay, and some had been eaten by predators. About 20 had been slung in a pit and were slowly decomposing.

Two sheep were so ill they had to be put down, and many of the others were suffering from general neglect.

A vet said the deaths were caused by a combination of poor feeding, copper deficiency and chronic fluke infestation - a liver disease.

Ewes that were in lamb were in such poor condition that they could not produce healthy lambs, nor feed them once they were born.

The farmer blamed the condition on the fact that he had been unwell and had to look after his elderly mother. He said financial difficulties had added to the problem.

He pleaded guilty to 10 charges of neglect and was fined £800. He was also ordered to pay £800 compensation and £600 in vets' fees.

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