**Warning – there are distressing images at the end of this article**
A woman who abandoned two cats and a dog in a Liverpool property for so long without food and water that one of the cats died and was partly eaten by the other has been banned from keeping animals for 12 years.
Leann McConnell of Walton admitted three charges of causing unnecessary suffering to protected animals under the Animal Welfare Act and a fourth charge of failing to meet animals’ needs and appeared for sentencing at Sefton Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (June 7).
McConnell left the dead cat, known as Tilly, along with a tabby, she called ‘Fat Shit,’ and a terrier crossbreed dog unattended in the house at Hollingbourne Road in the Norris Green area of the city.
When RSPCA Inspector Anthony Joynes followed up a report of abandonment on November 14 last year he was told by neighbours that McConnell had not been seen for weeks.
The inspector, who was accompanied by police officers, rang McConnell who agreed to come to the property and let him in.
In his witness statement, Inspector Joynes said the defendant claimed that when she was last at the address, two to three days before, the animals were fine. But once inside the home, which was in an unkempt state, strewn with litter and animal faeces, he discovered the poor condition they had been left in.
He came across the tabby feeding on the carcass of the black and white cat in a downstairs bathroom.
In the living room, which smelt heavily urine stains and faeces, he found the dog, called ‘Chunks’, who was underweight and had a matted coat.
There was no water left for the animals and all their bowls were filthy. There was one bowl of poor quality dry food in the living room.
Inspector Joynes stated: “All of the bones of the male tabby cat were easily palpable through his skin. He also had a marked skin tent and was clearly distressed being found actively feeding on a deceased black and white cat.
“The dead cat appeared to have had her rear legs and pelvic region stripped of the soft tissues leaving exposed bone. The rest of the carcass was in very poor condition with very little muscle and all bones easily palpable through the skin.”
Of the dog, the inspector noted he could feel his ribs, pelvic bones and spine and he too was showing a skin tent, which suggested he had suffered from thirst for a prolonged period.
The court was presented with an expert witness report by veterinary surgeon Vanessa Whitfield. On examination she had scored the tabby 1 out of 9 on a body condition score; a cat in a healthy state should score between 5 and 9.
She reported the dog’s body condition score was 3 out of 9, when a score of 4 or 5 is normal for an adult canine.
A post-mortem on the dead cat proved inconclusive, but a veterinary pathologist considered the most likely cause of death was inadequate nutrition or malnutrition, although she said disease within the missing organs could not be ruled out.
The examination found that a large proportion of the cat’s abdominal organs, muscle tissue and skin were missing and the medic said several of her internal organs had been eaten by the surviving cat.
The vet concluded: “The two cats and dogs were allowed to suffer due to a lack of accessible, clean and fresh water leading to thirst, dehydration and contributing to the death of one of the cats.”
In mitigation, McConnell claimed she had been struggling with mental health issues.
As well as the ban on keeping animals she was also given a six months prison sentence suspended for 12 months She was also fined £200, £400 costs and £447 in RSPCA medical costs.
Both the dog and the cat were rehabilitated at RSPCA Wirral and Chester branch and have since been rehomed.
**Warning – there are distressing images below**