Kettering pair sentenced after rabbit died of starvation

The women were sentenced at Northampton Magistrates Court
The women were sentenced at Northampton Magistrates Court

Two Kettering women who allowed a pet rabbit to starve to death have been ordered to complete more than 200 hours of community punishment between them.

Denise, 43, and Sheona Kirkton, 19, of Thurston Drive and St Mary’s Road in Kettering respectively, appeared before a district judge at Northampton Magistrates’ Court last Thursday.

The pair, mother and daughter, had already pleaded guilty to charges of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and failing to ensure the welfare of an animal at a previous hearing.

The court had previously heard that the pair had caused suffering to a large female rabbit by failing to provide a suitable diet.

A vet who examined the rabbit after its death said it would have taken several weeks or even months before the rabbit died.

Last Thursday, the court was told that the pair had not deliberately set out to harm the rabbit and that there had been a mix-up between Sheona, who owned the rabbit, and her mum, whose house it was kept at, as to who was feeding and looking after the pet.

The RSPCA said it received a complaint in October last year after the rabbit had died.

Inspector Polly Underwood attended the address where the rabbit was kept and said she found the animal lying dead in a hutch.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “There was no bedding or food and the water bottle was empty - the bottom of the hutch was also filled with faeces.

“The rabbit’s body was in a hunched position and had maggots around the mouth.

“The rabbit was found to be severely emaciated, weighing just 1.68kgs – the ideal weight being between 3 and 4kg – and a post mortem examination showed that the cause of death was very likely to be a lack of food which had contributed significantly to the rabbit’s emaciation and death.”

RSPCA inspector Polly Underwood said: “It is hard to imagine what this poor rabbit went through - she was shut in a hutch and left to suffer a drawn out and painful death from starvation. No animal should have to go through that.

“Rabbits are often bought as ‘easy’ pets and left in hutches with little care but they do have complex needs.”

Denise Kirkton was handed a 100 hour community punishment while Sheona was given 120 hours. Both women were also told to pay costs of £300 and were given two-year orders preventing them from owning or keeping animals.