Couple Banned From Keeping Animals For Life Following RSPCA Investigation

A man and woman from County Durham have been banned from keeping animals for life thanks to a successful prosecution pursued by the RSPCA. 

John Raper and Clare Louise Raper, both of Darlington, were convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to their dog ‘Chico’ and failing to meet the needs of Chico, a cat called ‘Puss’, three domestic white rats and two Budgerigars. 

Mr Raper pleaded guilty to a third offence of failing to protect Chico and Puss from pain, suffering, injury or disease, which are all offences contrary to the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Both were sentenced at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 20 October.

When RSPCA inspector Clare Wilson entered the property with the police, she found the animals were living in an unhygienic and hazardous environment. 

Inside, the rooms were hoarded household items which were infested with fleas, flies and other insects.

Clare saw Chico, a Labrador cross, had an untreated skin condition with hair loss to his back, and he was scratching his skin. 

A rancid cage found inside the property

The water that had been left for Chico was dirty and undrinkable.

The RSPCA also found a metal cage containing two white rats. The only water they had was also dirty and had dead flies floating in it. 

Rubbish and takeaway containers were filling their cage, and mouldy meat from a kebab shop was the only food available to the animals.

The rats were huddled in a corner as their soiled newspaper was falling and dripping through the base of the cage.

The black cat ‘Puss’ was found curled up on a bed that was damp and filthy. Puss was also found to have a flea infestation.

Two budgies called Penny and Shadow were in a cage where they had no room to fly because of a large number of hanging toys. 

Their cage was also soiled with droppings.

Clare found another white rat living in a filing drawer. 

The drawer was closed, so the rat was living in the dark amongst rubbish with no food or water.

The RSPCA inspector could feel fleas on her. She said:

‘I could feel insects on me throughout the time I was in the property, so it was clear there was a major flea infestation and maybe other insects as well. 

‘The floor was wet with urine in places, and there was no natural light or ventilation inside as all the windows were covered. 

‘There was rubbish and hazards everywhere making it an inappropriate environment for animals to be living in.

A rat living in a drawer

In addition to the lifetime disqualification, which they cannot contest for 20 years, they both received a six-month conditional discharge and were ordered to pay £200 costs and a £22 victim surcharge. 

A deprivation order was given for Chico, Puss, Penny and Shadow meaning that the RSPCA will be able to rehome them after a 21-day appeal period has passed. 

The rats were signed over into the RSPCA’s care and have been rehomed.

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said:

‘No animals deserve to live lives like this, and we want to make sure we can at least give them a second chance to live a happy life. 

‘If you’re looking to rehome one of our animals, take a look at our Find a Pet for your perfect match’.

Image credit: RSPCA

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