Cat carer sentenced over animal cruelty
THE founder of a Northern NSW animal shelter has been found guilty of failing to provide appropriate medical treatment to eight cats in her care.
Happy Paws Haven pet sanctuary founder Sally Ann Rogers was sentenced on Tuesday at Ballina Local Court, after Magistrate Karen Stafford found her guilty for being in charge of an animal and failing to provide vet treatment and being in charge of an animal and failing to exercise control.
The Eatonsville pet sanctuary was the subject of a raid by RSPCA inspectors on July 31, 2017, after a formal complaint about a concern for animal welfare.
Upon inspection, the RSPCA officers and two veterinarians found eight cats in need of immediate veterinary treatment.
Four cats had been found to have varying levels of dental disease, two cats had ear infections and a further two cats had both dental disease and ear infections.
The two vets on site administered immediate pain relief and antibiotics to the cats and observed some of the cats with dental disease had exposed and bleeding gums and ordered immediate dental procedures and extractions would be necessary.
The cats with ear infections had been observed to have dirty ears with discharge leaking from them, causing significant pain to the animals who showed signs of distress.
The veterinarians noted the symptoms of each cat would have been easily observable from a period of two weeks to two months.
Ms Rogers' defence lawyer Ben Cochrane said the prosecution could not prove without a reasonable doubt his client was solely responsible for the care and treatment of the cats at Happy Paws Haven, as the non-for-profit charity had several volunteers.
But Ms Stafford said the cats were "under the care or control or supervision" of Ms Rogers as "there was a wealth of evidence she had the cats in her physical control" and she had accepted previous notices from the RSPCA concerning the animals in her care.
Ms Stafford said Ms Rogers had failed to consult veterinarians or provide adequate treatment plans to ensure the health of the eight cats were maintained.
She said it seemed "completely illogical" that if a veterinarian treatment plan had been carried out prior to the RSPCA inspection, the health of the eight cats would not have deteriorated to the extent witnessed on July 31, 2017.
Ms Rogers was sentenced and given a three-year community corrections order, and was also prohibited to "purchase, posses, acquire or take custody of any cat for two years".
She was also ordered to dispose of the eight cats within 28 days and pay legal costs of $11,462.