Ban for man who kept flea-infested cats and dogs in squalor at Liverpool home

A man has been banned from owning animals for life after the RSPCA found three sick kittens among 37 animals that were being kept at his home. [Photos at end of article]

The RSPCA investigated after being alerted by a member of the public when the animals’ owner was taken to hospital. 

The charity’s inspectors found 20 cats and three kittens along with four dogs and three ferrets living in filthy, unhygienic conditions. There were also two fish in an aquarium, but of five snakes that were being kept in vivariums, four had perished and were in a decomposed state.

A vet, who examined the animals, said it would have taken two full-time animal workers with help from volunteers to look after such a large number of animals.

Alan Packenham of Thornton, Liverpool was sentenced at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on April 14 after pleading guilty to four offences of causing unnecessary suffering to animals and one of failing to take steps to ensure the needs of the animals were met.

When RSPCA inspectors Lisa Lupson, Anthony Joynes and Nadine Pengilly entered the property on August 31 last year (2021) they were hit by an “overpowering stench of faeces and urine”. 

They discovered two female cats, one severely underweight, in the bathroom, along with three kittens inside an open draw who were infested with fleas and in need of immediate medical attention. All five cats were taken to a local veterinary practice by Inspector Joynes, but two of the kittens were in such poor health that sadly one died within minutes of arriving at the vets and another passed away later.

Two of three German Shepherd dogs, being kept with a crossbreed dog, had been left muzzled.

“There was no litter tray in the bathroom so the cats had been pooing and weeing in the bath.”

Inspector Lupson returned to the property on two occasions to catch 14 of the cats, which were roaming free and collect the four dogs. Sadly another cat was found to have died.

The cats and dogs were placed in the care of an RSPCA animal centre and approved kennels, while the ferrets and a corn snake were taken to specialist rescue centres.

Veterinary surgeon Vanessa Whitfield, based at the RSPCA’s Greater Manchester Animal Hospital, concluded the three kittens, five of the cats and two of the German Shepherd dogs had all been allowed to suffer by their owner.

She said he had also failed to provide for the needs of all the animals by not providing a hygienic environment, a suitable amount of space, food and water, places for the animals to rest and play and to urinate and defecate, as well as failing to provide suitable veterinary care.

In her report, the vet said, “Animal welfare organisations would have a minimum of two full-time members of staff, assisted by volunteers, to care for such a number of animals.

“This is clearly far too much for any single owner to contend with and it is not surprising the environment and level of animal care and husbandry was so poor.”

And she added, “It is likely they [the failings] had been present for a minimum of three months, but more likely this poor level of care will have persisted for many months or even years.”

Speaking after the sentencing, Inspector Lupson said, “The animals were housed in really bad conditions. The property was riddled with fleas and we needed to wear full PPE when we went in.

“There were too many animals being kept in what was a small house.”

Magistrates sentenced Packenham to a 16-week prison term suspended for 12 months. They also ordered him to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 court costs and a victim surcharge of £95.

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