RSPCA: Man who inflicted 'blunt force trauma' on his own pet cats given lifetime animal ban
Vet notes obtained during their investigation revealed other pets belonging to the man had also suffered mysterious injuries, or had died without explanation
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A man has been banned from owning animals for life after he admitted punching and hitting his pets so severely one cat lost an eye, after an "extremely upsetting and disturbing" RSPCA investigation. Dunham man Dominic Jackson, 26, pleaded guilty to inflicting blunt force trauma and physical violence on his pets - a puppy and five cats - after he was prosecuted by the RSPCA, following reports he had been seen kicking cats.
He appeared this month for sentencing at Peterlee Magistrates Court, where he was handed an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, and disqualified from keeping animals for the rest of his life. The court heard how RSPCA inspectors Rowena Proctor and Heidi Cleaver visited Jackson’s home in January this year to find a number of animals - some of which were underweight - living in poor conditions.
In her evidence, inspector Proctor said: “The living room smelled strongly of cat urine and was unclean throughout with very dirty litter trays. Several of the cats appeared to be very underweight with ribs and pelvis felt with ease."
One cat in particular was of major concern, she continued. "I spotted her lying on the top of a corner unit which was around [2.2 metres] tall and she appeared to be deceased. I was eventually able to reach up far enough to get hold of the cat who thankfully was still alive but appeared weak and lethargic."
Her name was Missy and she was the skinniest of all five cats, Ms Proctor said. She and inspector Cleaver put all of them into carriers and removed them from the property. The animals - five cats called Missy, Toby, Tabby, Felix and Simba, and a crested gecko called Bumblebee - were taken straight for vet treatment and later seized by the police as evidence. The vet said all of the cats were suffering and four of them were too thin, although they all made good weight gains with appropriate care in the weeks that followed.
Vet notes seen by the RSPCA during the investigation revealed how other pets previously belonging to Jackson - a guinea pig, a ferret, three cats called Tibby, BamBam and Bambi, a black terrier type puppy called Lulu and one unknown species of animal - had also sustained injuries or died without explanation or veterinary intervention.
Tibby was found to have sustained a broken back leg after reportedly falling off the bed while alone in the bedroom with Jackson, and later died. A ferret called Maggie and a guinea pig were said to have been found dead in their cages by the defendant, who claimed other cats had fallen down the stairs or been found dead behind the sofa. Lulu the puppy had suffered a head trauma, but had since been rehomed.
The court heard how Jackson had admitted punching Toby with a closed fist after he’d eaten another cat’s food, resulting in the cat having to have his eye removed. He also said he had slapped Missy and Felix, but could offer no explanation as to why other animals had unexpectedly got injured or died. Another vet who gave evidence said none of the animals were reported to have sustained accidental injuries such as road traffic accidents or falling from a significant height.
“In my opinion, Missy, Toby, Felix, Simba and Tibby have all been caused to suffer as a consequence of physical abuse,” he said. “Suffering will have been experienced by these animals via mechanisms of fear, distress and pain for variable periods of time." He believed Lulu the dog, although now happy in a new home, had also suffered from physical abuse, although he could not say for certain.
Most of the animals removed from the property on 28 January were signed over to the RSPCA during the course of the investigation and have since been rehomed by the charity. A deprivation order made by the court meant that any which still remained - or had been bought since - must be handed over and would be rehomed too.
In mitigation, Jackson told the court he was vulnerable and suffering from poor mental health, and repeatedly claimed that someone else was responsible for coming into the house and harming the animals. Another defendant in the case, Laura Smith, was given a 12-month conditional discharge and banned from owning and keeping animals for one year at a hearing in September, after pleading guilty to one offence contrary to the Animal Welfare Act 2006.