Owners plead not guilty in animal cruelty case

Kim Donovan and her daughter Rosemary are facing several animal cruelty charges.
Kim Donovan and her daughter Rosemary are facing several animal cruelty charges.

RSPCA inspectors said they found 30 cats in the living room, faeces on the floor and the smell of ammonia so strong that one inspector had to leave the house because he felt sick.

Former RSPCA inspector Nat McWhinney said the stench in the house reminded her of a piggery.

Another former inspector, Ken Ostle, claimed there were guinea pigs and birds in cages in some bedrooms of the house. He said there were 50 birds and some rabbits in aviaries in the backyard.

Kim Donovan (54) and her daughter Rosemary (24) pleaded not guilty to numerous counts of not taking reasonable steps to prevent an animal suffering from harm and not providing proper and sufficient food to an animal.

The court was told about cats allegedly riddled with mites, fleas and ringworm. Witnesses for the prosecution described a rabbit with an infected eye and another rabbit with wounds.

The prosecution called for Magistrate Vivian Edwards to ban the women from owning animals because of the ‘seriously appalling conditions’ alleged by the RSPCA.

But Kim Donovan said she was in hospital, having treatment for a dog bite to her hand, during much of the time when inspectors visited the property in July and August 2011.

While she admitted the house was ‘a bit messy,’ Kim said 20kg bags of dog biscuits and cat food were delivered to the house. She said her daughter, brother, husband and a neighbour fed the animals. ‘They did have food and water,’ she said.

Kim said her late husband had done his best to look after the animals while she was in hospital, but that he also had to go to hospital during the period of inspections. She said there was a period when Rosemary did not know her father was also in hospital.

Rosemary did not accept the RSPCA’s claims that some animals did not have sufficient food and water.

She said she did not notice many of the alleged injuries and had treated lesions on a cat with disinfectant cream.

She said her father was supposed to care for the animals, while she visited her mother at Royal Perth Hospital.

Witness Muriel Frazer (Rosemary’s grandmother) said Rosemary had tended to the animals every night while her mother was in hospital.

Ms Edwards has reserved her decision until May 30.