County Durham woman who neglected rabbit and Chihuahua receives two-year animal ban

County Durham woman who neglected rabbit and Chihuahua receives two-year animal ban

A woman has received a two-year animal ban after her dog was found with injuries and her pet rabbit was discovered with multiple health issues.

Elizabeth Cusick, 66, of Trafalgar Square, Darlington, County Durham, was convicted of two offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006; one of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to provide prompt veterinary attention to her Chihuahua cross, called Chester, and the other of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to address the poor body condition and ill health of her pet rabbit, called Teddy.

Cusik pleaded guilty to the latter offence, but denied the former and was found guilty of the offence after trial. She also pleaded not guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to Chester by inflicting trauma on the dog and causing injury and she was cleared of that offence after trial.

The defendant was sentenced at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court on June 12, where she was disqualified from keeping dogs and rabbits for two years. Cusik was also fined £292 and told to pay a victim surcharge of £117 and court costs of £250.

The court heard the defendant took her six-year-old dog in a pram to Stanhope Park Veterinary Hospital in Darlington on June 10 last year. When a vet examined the canine so as to carry out a procedure to ease a urinary blockage injuries were found on Chester’s back legs and around his anus.

The vet contacted the RSPCA to raise concerns about the welfare of the dog, who was seized by police and taken into the care of the animal charity. He later underwent surgery and his health improved.

An RSPCA inspector went to Cusik’s home on June 12 where he found a rabbit living in a small hutch with no bedding, food and water. The rabbit was suffering from an eye infection and matted fur and the defendant agreed to sign the animal over into the care of the charity.

Teddy the rabbit was suffering from infections in all his feet and his belly and bottom were heavily soiled with urine and faeces.(Image: RSPCA)

A vet at the vet hospital where Chester was taken said in a statement presented to the court that when the dog arrived he had not eaten for five days and was in a lethargic state, unable to walk more than two or three steps.

“When we clipped the fur between the dog’s back legs ready for the operation we noticed extensive bruising reaching from the ventral midline down either side of the back legs to the stifles. The dog’s perinanal area was also heavily bruised,” she said.

“I called the owner and asked her if anything had happened inside or outside her house, but she could not give any explanations as to how the bruising might have happened.”

The vet said that in her expert opinion Chester had suffered from trauma, most likely to have been a kick or multiple kicks between his back legs, which caused bruising and bleeding and meant he couldn’t urinate because of the swelling.

She added: “Although in the end she did the right thing and brought Chester to the hospital for an examination, the fact she couldn’t provide an explanation as to what happened to him and that she waited for five days before presenting him prolonged his suffering.”

Cusik told the RSPCA inspector that she had “not hurt her dog”.

Another vet who examined Teddy found the rabbit was suffering from infections in all his feet and his belly and bottom were heavily soiled with urine and faeces. A mass was found in his chest which would have caused his eyes to protrude abnormally resulting in respiratory problems. The rabbit was in such poor health that sadly the kindest course of action was to put him to sleep.

The vet said: “This rabbit had multiple infections that could have been prevented by proper care and attention and the severity of his respiratory infection would have been reduced had veterinary care been provided. The owner should also have noticed that the rabbit’s eyes were abnormal and sought vet advice.”

The court made a deprivation order for the dog against the defendant. Although he still suffers from urinary infections, Chester has recovered in RSPCA care. He is currently being looked after by one of the charity’s foster carers and will now be found a new permanent home.

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County Durham woman who neglected rabbit and Chihuahua receives two-year animal ban

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