St Leonards woman banned from keeping birds for life

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A woman who used to live in St Leonards has been banned from keeping birds for life after 13 owls and other birds were found crammed into her garden shed in unsuitable conditions.

Jackie Cullen, 67, now of South Street, Seahouses, Northumbria, was found guilty of animal welfare offences at Hastings Magistrates’ Court on Friday (July 3) and made to pay £500 in compensation.

Snowy owl saved from St Leonards woman in 2012.

Snowy owl saved from St Leonards woman in 2012.

The case was taken by the RSPCA after they were called to her previous address in Tower Road, St Leonards in December, 2012 and found a goose, a gull, a pigeon and the owls in a thin and poor condition.

They were kept in cages in the garden shed without enough height, length or breadth to open their wings, they did not have drinking water, and had untreated eye ulcers and ingrowing talons.

“It took my breath away when I walked into that shed and saw the rows of these beautiful birds crammed into tiny, filthy cages,” RSPCA inspector Cora Peeters said.

“There was just not enough room for them, and they were leading miserable lives. It was heartbreaking to see.

“The defendant is a habitual collector of birds and there is a real concern she may reoffend - so we ask anyone who knows of her collecting birds again to call our cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.”

The owls were a mixture of species including a Bengal Eagle owl, Terkmenian eagle owl, Chaco owl, snowy owl and a great horned owl but they have all now been successfully rehomed.

“Owls are stunning animals which appeal to many people but they do not make good pets and are not suited to a domestic setting,” inspector Peeters said. “They are wild animals and have specialist needs which are hard to cater for in a captive environment, and we urge anyone wanting to keep them at home to think twice about what they are taking on.

“Owls are by nature generally shy and reclusive birds, preferring to spend most of their time roosting in a secluded place, and most species are nocturnal.

“They need very large aviary with a sheltered roosting area and a specialist diet, and have sharp talons and strong feet that can inflict deep puncture wounds and scratches.”

The RSPCA is concerned about the keeping of exotic animals as pets. Anyone considering purchasing a bird must have the knowledge to be able to provide for their welfare needs.

If you suspect a case of animal cruelty or neglect, contact the RSPCA’s Cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.

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