Dozens of rabbits living in filth

SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR
Last updated 09:48 11/04/2014
Rabbit living in filth
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FILTHY CAGE: The SPCA found this rabbit living in its own filth when it investigated a case of animal neglet.

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Two Canterbury men, one of them a registered rabbit breeder, have been convicted of ill treating animals in their care.

Christchurch rabbit breeder David William Fairbrother, 39, was convicted on seven charges for failing to properly care for his animals. 

A variety of animals, including 58 rabbits, two quail, two rats and seven chinchilla were found inside a garage. It was poorly ventilated and had 44 cages with large amounts of compacted faecal matter.

The animals had no access to clean water and were all suffering from illness and disease.

The SPCA took the animals.

SPCA Canterbury chief executive Barry Helem said more than 55 of the animals had been homed, with all the rabbits being de-sexed, microchipped and vaccinated at "considerable cost to the SPCA".

He said the case was disturbing because Fairbrother was a well-known animal breeder.

Fairbrother was sentenced to 175 hours of community service and ordered to pay $4000 reparations to the SPCA and $750 in court costs. He was also disqualified from owning animals for at least five years.

Another man, Robert John McGowan, 54, of Darfield was convicted of three charges for failing to provide sufficient care for over 60 cattle.

The animals had to be euthanised.

McGowan failed to plan for the welfare of his calves, and had no backup when he ran out of feed, Helem said. He did not seek veterinary help when the herd became ill. 

Helem said the case highlighted concerns about "part-time" farmers with little experience in animal husbandry.

McGowan was sentenced to 275 hours of community service and ordered to pay $2763 in veterinary costs and $750 in court costs. He was also disqualified from owning farm animals for at least five years.

Both cases related to SPCA Canterbury investigations from last year.

Last year, SPCA Canterbury received 567 complaints for animal cruelty and neglect. This year to date, there have already been over 300 complaints.

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