Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Elizabeth King, 53(1) 352 animals found

Trimingham, Norfolk, England

June 13, 2005  
Beryl Barker, 72 352 animals found

Trimingham, Norfolk, England

June 13, 2005  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date
  (1)convicted of animal cruelty in 1992 & 1993 131 dogs, 48 cats, 80 rabbits, 86 guinea pigs, 3 degus, 3 chickens & 1 parrot Convicted  

The RSPCA has begun an investigation after more than 300 animals were found crammed into a house in appalling conditions.

Inspectors discovered 352 animals at the property in Cromer, Norfolk. Many of the 131 dogs, 48 cats, 80 rabbits, 86 guinea pigs, three degus (an animal similar to a guinea pig), three chickens and a parrot were in a poor condition.

It took a team of 30 people more than 16 hours to clear the animals from the building.  "This is one of the biggest numbers of animals we have ever found at one location," said an RSPCA spokeswoman.

She said two people had been cautioned by the RSPCA and vets were examining the animals. Some of them may have to be put down.

Officials said an investigation was under way and inspectors were gathering evidence. The caution, made under the Animal Welfare Act, amounted only to a warning that an investigation had begun and a criminal prosecution could follow, the spokeswoman said.

The RSPCA has not given the exact location where the animals were found because of possible criminal proceedings. It is too early to say whether the animals will be rehomed.

The charity's inspectors had been called in by the local authority, which had obtained a warrant to search the premises. The two people who have been cautioned will be interviewed later and officials will then decide whether to proceed with a prosecution.

One rabbit was found to be suffering from an eye condition, while some of the dogs were showing signs of having been deprived of food.

Tim Wass, an RSPCA superintendent, described the address as "residential premises with some outbuildings".

He said: "We are currently assessing the condition of the animals and some are likely to be put down. They are currently being held and cared for at three different locations in East Anglia.

"Some of the animals are in excellent condition - especially the young animals - and some are in a suffering state. They were removed from appalling conditions which were squalid and unhygienic."  The animals range in age from puppies and kittens a few weeks old to elderly pets.

He said staff were working hard to minimise their suffering and he hoped to rehabilitate as many as possible.

The dogs were said to be all toy breeds, including chinese crested dogs, hairy chinese crested dogs - commonly known as powder puffs - and a breed called schipperke.

"The sad fact of the matter is we visited this address several months ago and gave advice, but because we're dealing with legislation which is nearly 100 years old that can either be heeded or ignored, and in this case it was ignored," Mr Wass added.

Jackie Lines, manager of the Block Fen Animal Centre in Wimblington, Cambridgeshire, where some of the animals are being cared, for said: "The dogs were nervous and frightened when they arrived and it's sad to see them squirrelling away their food and using it for later."

Update 9/1/05:  Two women have been charged with causing unnecessary suffering to more than 350 animals following a high-profile raid.

  (Photo courtesy of the BBC - Mother and her pups)

The RSPCA confirmed that Elizabeth King, 53, and Beryl Barker, 72, both of Broadwood Close, Trimingham, near Cromer, will appear before magistrates later this month.

King faces 44 charges of causing unnecessary suffering to 352 animals under the Protection of Animals Act.

Barker is accused of 42 counts of causing unnecessary suffering to the 133 dogs, 45 cats, 52 rabbits, and 122 guinea pigs.

It is the first time the two women have been officially named by the authorities.

Sophie Wilkinson, for the RSPCA, said the charges related to animal living conditions and not seeking veterinary treatment.

Supt Tim Wass said at the time that the raid was the biggest in East Anglia and the Midlands, and a handful of animals had to be put down.

All the rescued animals, apart from the rabbits, have been re-homed following a “phenomenal” response from animal lovers.

Hundreds of people from as far afield as Hertfordshire, London and the South East flocked to the Block Fen Animal Centre, in March, Cambridgeshire, to adopt the small breed dogs. The RSPCA had to turn many away because of the high demand.

The two women will appear before Cromer Magistrates' Court at 2.15pm on September 30. The case is anticipated to be adjourned following a plea hearing.

Update 4/29/06:  A woman who kept more than 300 animals in "chaos", allowing many of them to suffer, was banned from keeping animals for life - except for a few dogs described as "her family".

Elizabeth King was sentenced for a string of cruelty offences by Cromer magistrates who heard she and her friend Beryl Barker kept the dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs in often appalling conditions.

King was also sentenced for running a pet shop without a licence in the centre of Cromer.

Magistrates heard a baffling array of cages, hutches, pens and aviaries was found by RSPCA staff during a June raid on Water Tower Farm in Trimingham, home to King and Barker.

Both defendants previously admitted six charges each of causing unnecessary suffering to a sample of 21 animals. Barker was sentenced in February, but King's sentence was held over because the unlicensed pet shop charge had to be resolved in a trial at the end of March.

Prosecutor Jonathan Eales said animals were found with cat flu, their eyes sealed with puss, with dental disease, discharge from their noses and eyes and other illnesses. A video shown to the court showed many of the animals were kept in cages with soiled bedding, with no water or dirty water and, said Mr Eales, "living in their own excreta".

However Mr Eales said King had not only co-operated with the RSPCA, but had never been guilty of "wanton, deliberate or malicious cruelty".

Ann-Marie Gregory, defending King, said both women had been unable to cope and "overwhelmed" with the number of animals in their care.

"If the numbers are kept low, these ladies have a great deal of experience. The RSPCA is supporting the fact they should not be deprived of all animals. If you restrict the numbers they are fine. These animals are her family."

Both the prosecution and defence said they wished to support the idea of allowing King to keep the six dogs she has, while being banned from keeping any other animals.

Magistrates told King she could keep the six dogs, but when they died she would be allowed a maximum of two dogs. Other than these animals, she would be banned from keeping animals for life.

She was banned from running a pet shop for 10 years.

They said King's previous convictions for animal cruelty in 1992 and 1993 were being treated as "spent" because of their age.

King was also sentenced to a total of 200 hours of community work and told to pay £140 compensation to the RSPCA. This figure was only a fraction of what the RSPCA had asked for because of the difficulty King would have paying, including the fact she had recently been made bankrupt.

Reference:

The Guardian EDP 24
BBC News