A MAN and woman have each been ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work for causing unnecessary suffering due to “passive mistreatment” of an emaciated cat called Purdy which a judge said must have suffered “harrowing” pain.
John and Elaine Campbell of Beech Grove in Larne had previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
They had brought the cat to a vet but when they did not return to medics they claimed they could not locate the animal.
However, after a complaint was made to the local council, an official found the cat sitting in the drive way of their home.
The court heard an illness meant the cat lost its tongue and it could not eat or groom itself.
A prosecutor said the council had received a complaint in October 2018 of a “severely underweight cat in poor condition” and an official found it in the pair’s driveway.
It was “very dirty”, “severely under weight” and “appeared to be suffering” and the official seized the animal.
The prosecutor said the cat had a body score of 0.5 out of ten and was weighing 1.6 kilos, it was emaciated and its coat was completely matted.
Council officials were able to get the cat’s weight up to three kilos but it wasn’t able to eat by itself and had to be put down, the court was told.
A defence solicitor said the pair intended to take the animal back to the vets but it was “not a house cat” and they could not locate it despite making a number of efforts.
The lawyer said there seemed to be some confusion about the seriousness of the cat’s condition and if they had known they would have “redoubled their efforts to get hands on the cat and take it back into the vet”.
He said the Campbells accepted they were the carers of the cat and that it had suffered unnecessarily.
The solicitor said the pair had not intentionally set out to make the cat suffer.
He said they are “committed lovers of animals” and would be “most distressed” if the court banned them from keeping pets.
The court heard the pair now have two dogs and two cats and “nothing untoward” turned up during a council inspection.
District Judge Nigel Broderick said: “You would have thought if it (the cat) was lost it would have been lost when the Council came to look for it.”
The judge said the court takes animal suffering cases very seriously.
He described photos of the cat as “quite harrowing” and said it must have gone through pain.
The judge acknowledged the cat had originally been taken to a vet but he couldn’t understand why the Campbells did not access further treatment which ultimately led to the cat having to be put down.
He noted the pair had expressed “genuine remorse” and they were both hard-working with no previous convictions.
The judge noted the inspection of their current pets came back clear and he had been told the cat incident had been “out of character”.
He said it had “not been an easy decision” but he was not imposing a disqualification order on the Campbells keeping pets.
The judge said the cat had suffered “passive mistreatment” and the other animals were being properly cared for.
Judge Broderick ordered each defendant to do 120 hours of Community Service which he said was a “direct alternative” to a prison sentence.
They were each also ordered to pay costs of £172.
After the court, a spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said: “We give a high priority to the welfare of domestic pets and horses, and operate a rigorous enforcement policy to ensure full compliance of regulatory requirements.
“Complaints are investigated thoroughly and where necessary formal action is taken, which may include the service of Improvement Notices, or in extreme cases, seizure of animals.
“The Council may also prosecute for offences such as in this case, which we hope serves as a warning to anyone who does not take appropriate care of animals.”