Rabbit owner banned from keeping animals for five years

A woman who neglected both her rabbit and dog has been banned from keeping animals for five years. By the time the rabbit, which had suffered for weeks, was taken to a vet it was in such ill health it had to be put down. The dog was infested with fleas and had alopecia.

Sarah Murgatroyd, 45, of Broom Road, Wigan, pleaded guilty to two offences under the Animal Welfare Act and appeared for sentencing at Wigan Magistrates’ Court in an RSPCA prosecution. The court was told that the defendant had failed to realise how ill her Netherland dwarf rabbit, called Noah, was until a neighbour pointed it out to her.

By the time she handed Noah over to RSPCA inspector Deborah Beats on April 27th last year the pet had collapsed and was gravely ill with a brain infection. A vet later decided that the kindest thing to do was to put the rabbit to sleep to end his suffering.

Murgatroyd also presented her dog, a shar pei cross, called Teddy, to the inspector and said she wasn’t able to look after him. He had a moderate flea infestation and alopecia, which he was treated for after he was signed over into the care of the RSPCA.

A vet who examined Noah said he was underweight, with a body condition score of one out of five, and he was so cold that his body temperature couldn’t be measured with a thermometer. A post-mortem showed evidence of encephalitozoon cuniculi infection, a common parasite affecting the kidneys and brains of rabbits.

The vet said: “Noah was suffering for a period of at least two weeks, but more likely longer. He had a significant amount of weight loss and was visibly underweight. He had a disease that is common in rabbits that was left untreated. A responsible owner would have sought veterinary care when first noticing the clinical signs.”

The magistrates told Murgatroyd to complete 15 rehabilitation activity days and 80 hours of unpaid work as part of a 12-month community order. She was also ordered to pay £300 court costs and a victim surcharge of £114.