June 25, 2021 12.51 pm This story is over 13 months old

Suspended prison term for man who kept pets in ‘shocking’ conditions

Lincoln man sentenced over three welfare offences

A man has been handed a suspended prison sentence for breaching his ban on owning pets, keeping a guinea pig in ‘shocking’ conditions and neglecting a rabbit.

When RSPCA and Lincolnshire Police officers found Clive the guinea pig his head was touching the top of the tiny, cramped cage because it was piled so high with filth and faeces.

As they gathered evidence, Clive’s owner, Brian Buckthorpe, 64, of Cannon Street, Lincoln, went to the bathroom and was heard repeatedly flushing the toilet before officers discovered a rabbit who was ‘dripping wet’.

RSPCA found Bright Eyes in this state after a “flushing” incident.

Buckthorpe pleaded guilty to three offences under the Animal Welfare Act and was sentenced June 18 at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard how he had struggled with mental health problems and gave him credit for his guilty pleas, but sentenced him to a four-month sentence, suspended for 18 months.

He was ordered to pay £300 in costs plus a £128 victim surcharge. He is already disqualified from keeping animals for life and this will continue.

RSPCA inspector Kate Burris was called by police on August 18, 2020 who’d attended following reports of a neighbourly dispute.

“It had been alleged that Mr Buckthorpe was keeping animals in contravention of a court order,” Kate Burris said.

“I arranged to meet police at the house the following day and Mr Buckthorpe admitted that he had a pet guinea pig.

“He let us into his home and we found the guinea pig – called Clive – in a medium wire and plastic hamster cage sat in the seat of an armchair. As I looked closer into the cage I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Clive’s cage as found by RSPCA inspectors.

“The guinea pig cage was full of compacted poo substrate that was hardened and filled up the majority of the living space in the cage. It looked like a brown hill sloping up towards the back and top of the cage.

“There were random plastic toys on the cage and a plastic budgie. There was a ceramic bowl with dried up pieces of bread and corn flakes.

“There was a small bottle of water attached to the side of the cage, that I have no idea if the guinea pig would be able to access properly due to the slope of the hardened poo hill.

“Sitting at the bottom of the poo hill was a white semi-long haired guinea pig, its head was touching the top of the cage. I have never seen anything like this before. I was shocked.”

Officers became concerned as Mr Buckthorpe, who had gone to the bathroom, had been in there for a long time.

Clive was living in shocking conditions, the RPSCA said.

“Myself and one of the police officers were in the living room when the other officer called us into the hallway. Mr Buckthorpe had been in the bathroom for a long time and came out of the bathroom.

“On the floor in the bathroom was a young white and brown rabbit, it was dripping wet. The officer said Mr Buckthorpe had been continually flushing the toilet, I don’t know if he was trying to flush the rabbit down the toilet?”

Bright eyes is looking much better after getting some proper care from the RSPCA.

Chief Inspector Phil Vickers from Lincolnshire Police said: “This is one of the saddest cases of animal welfare I am aware of. We will always work with our colleagues in the RSPCA to protect the welfare of animals, they have taken positive action to address this offending.”

Both animals, Clive the guinea pig and Bright Eyes the rabbit, were signed over into the RSPCA’s care and Kate took them to a nearby vet surgery.

Clive had joint disease and was unable to walk properly, he also had a large lump around his anus and vets felt he was suffering and decided to put him to sleep.

Bright Eyes was taken in by an animal centre for rehoming.