A WOMAN has been jailed for 20 weeks and been given a lifetime ban on keeping animals she was found to be running a kitten farm from an empty house in Coventry.
Monika Listos, aged 26, of Lauderdale Avenue, Coventry, was found guilty of two Animal Welfare Act offences relating to 18 kittens when she was sentenced at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court following a three-day trial earlier that month.
The court heard how the RSPCA were investigating reports kittens were being sold in the West Midlands area which were too young to be away from their mums and many were gravely ill.
Witnesses saw Listos buying kittens from online adverts and then made her own adverts on Gumtree to sell the pets on for profit.
RSPCA Inspector Louise Marston attended an address in Lillington Road, Coventry on April 27, 2019, after receiving reports young kittens were being sold from there. In total the animal welfare charity had received 46 complaints from concerned members of the public.
No-one answered the door at the house but she could see kittens on the windowsill.
She could also see numerous kittens in the living room which had just a sofa inside – with three laying on the sofa including one which was very small and was not moving.
Inside there were 18 kittens – believed to be in three separate litters – who were living in poor conditions.
Insp Marston said she noticed a very bad smell of illness, diarrhoea and filth and small plastic tubs containing dry kitten food, an empty plate and an empty plastic double bowl.
“There was no water at all, no bedding and no toys for the kittens to play with. There were no adult cats seen and each room was empty of all furnishings.
“The smallest kitten was on the couch huddled between two other kittens.
“She felt very thin and her bottom was very dirty, covered in diarrhoea. There was no way that she could physically access food, water and the litter tray without being taken on and off the couch as she was too small and clearly too weak to climb herself.”
The pets were taken to a nearby vets who found the kittens to be in a suffering state so Insp Marston contacted Listos for her to be interviewed under caution at a future date and was then summoned to appear in court.
Sadly, the smallest kitten found at the address died overnight while in veterinary care.
Some of the other kittens were found to be aged four and five weeks old – too young to be away from their mum. This would usually be aged around eight weeks.
Twelve of the 18 were found to be suffering from feline parvovirus and sadly died. The other six were rehabilitated and re-homed through the RSPCA’s Coventry and district branch.
Insp Marston said: “Sadly kittens infected with feline parvovirus is something we do see, when kittens’ mothers were not vaccinated before becoming pregnant.
“These kittens were found in a house on their own and many were far too young to be away from their mum and were also at risk from the spread feline parvovirus via contact with contaminated faeces.
“Anyone looking for a new kitten should take time to make sure they have been bred responsibly, to avoid health and behavioural issues further down the line.”
Listos was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering of one of the kittens, not taking reasonable steps to ensure the needs of the 18 kittens, along with failing to provide a sustainable environment, suitable heat source, fresh clean drinking water, appropriate food, bedding or environmental enrichment.
As well as the jail term and lifetime ban on keeping animals she was also ordered to pay £10,000 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.