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Five year ban for woman who kept 88 rabbits in "atrocious" conditions
A FAST food worker who kept 88 rabbits in “atrocious” conditions has been banned from keeping them for five years.
Charlene Blackley spent all her spare money from her job at McDonald’s in Alder Hills as she tried in vain to care for the animals.
She said she loved them and was heartbroken by the ban.
The 29-year-old kept 59 of her pets outside and 29 in her bedroom at her parents’ home in Grange Gardens in Poole. She admitted two charges of failing to provide the animals with a suitable environment and two counts of failing to provide them with a suitable diet.
Matthew Knight, prosecuting for the RSPCA at Bournemouth magistrates’ court, said she used the rabbits as an “emotional crutch” after her relationship with her boyfriend ended.
He said the conditions in the upstairs room were “atrocious” with the pets in cramped hutches lacking bedding, food and water before the 88 rabbits were removed on July 5.
RSPCA officers later discovered Blackley had hidden a further five of them.
Mr Knight said there was a smell of ammonia with faeces and flies in the bedroom, with the smell “almost overwhelming”.
A statement from visiting vet Alix Heady said: “The window was shut with curtains closed and there were numerous flies.”
She added: “All the cages were dirty with varying amounts of compacted faeces present.”
The vet found a mother rabbit with six young, one of which later had to be put down.
“The kitten was collapsed, lying on its side and comatose,” she added.
Harvey Withecombe, defending, said Blackley, who cried through parts of the hearing, was now looking after 11 rabbits at her new address in Rochester Road in Poole.
He asked magistrates to defer sentencing to see how she coped with the animals and how she responded to counselling.
Mr Whitccombe said banning her “would take this young woman’s world away”.
But Kathleen McNally, chairman of the bench, said she was imposing the ban to protect the animals from neglect.
Charlene Blackley said she could not give any of her 93 rabbits up before as she “loved them so much”.
After being banned from keeping rabbits for five years, she told the Echo how she had wanted to work with animals and hopes to have rabbits again when her ban expires.
She said: “It looks like I ill treated them but I tried to clean them as much as I could but it got on top of me.
“I was working as well and was spending all my wages on them.”
The restaurant worker said she lost a rabbit given to her by her boyfriend before they split up and people started giving her the pets.
Some of the rabbits were kept in hutches in her bedroom until she started sleeping downstairs.
She added: “I tried to look after them but it just got too much.
“I find it a lot easier to look after the ones I’ve got now but it’s so unfair they are going to take them away.
“I feel victimised and it’s heartbreaking.”