10-year ban for nurse who starved pets

By Chloe Johnson

Jane Fitzpatrick starved her animals. Photo / Doug Sherring
Jane Fitzpatrick starved her animals. Photo / Doug Sherring

A nurse who starved her pets and kept them in filthy conditions has been banned from owning animals for 10 years.

Jane Fitzpatrick, 61, was sentenced in the Auckland District Court this week for failing to provide 34 chickens and roosters and 15 cockatiels with sufficient food, water and clean habitats.

She was ordered to forfeit more than 150 animals from her 5ha property in Ararimu, 45km south of Auckland.

Fitzpatrick was charged after SPCA inspections discovered dead and sick birds on her property in 2010.

Court documents, including graphic photos, revealed Fitzpatrick also kept 22 cats in two unventilated catteries that reeked of faeces and urine.

"The entire floor was littered with months of thick faecal matter, " the document stated.

In a witness statement, SPCA inspector Laurie Davis said he found three dead goats and a decaying sheep carcass under a tarpaulin behind the catteries.

A large number of bird bodies were in a compost bin.

An emaciated, pregnant cow was also found with bones protruding from its skin.

Fitzpatrick told the Herald on Sunday she had never neglected her animals, which she described as "companions", but was unable to cope during a bitter divorce.

She said she was unable to clean the catteries because the SPCA investigations and matrimonial disputes made her depressed. "Everyone I know can attest to how I have cared for, and have empathy for, animals," Fitzpatrick said. "The SPCA's heavy-handed insensitivity is a violation of my human rights. I just want to be left in peace with my animals."

As well as the 10-year ban, Judge Anne Kiernan sentenced Fitzpatrick to 200 hours' community work and 12 months intensive supervision. She ordered her to forfeit all animals to the SPCA and pay $6000 reparation to the society.

SPCA executive director Bob Kerridge said 10-year bans were rare but appropriate.

"It was sensible because here is a person who hoards animals and has more animals than she could look after."

- Herald on Sunday

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