A man has admitted to poisoning his neighbors’ cats – both died shortly afterwards.
Tristian Paul Pearson, 44, “deliberately” left poisoned tuna in his garden to entice the cats to eat it.
Along with tuna, they contained a high concentration of ethylene glycol — which is highly toxic to cats.
The RSPCA says it is the first such case to be referred in this way after the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 came into force last year, demonstrating the seriousness of the offence.
Pearson, from Bargoed, Wales, pleaded guilty to breaching the Animal Welfare Act and received an eight-month suspended sentence.
His actions were discovered after the cats’ owners searched his garden after their deaths.
Pots of tuna and blue liquid found in Pearson’s yard
Luna and Bailey died shortly after the poisonings in early September 2021, returning home one after the other within a week and appearing very unwell.
Both cats appeared weak and unsteady on their legs, with male Persian Bailey dying before he could be seen by a vet.
Luna, who was later diagnosed with kidney failure, had to be euthanized by a vet to prevent her continued suffering.
At a hearing, Cardiff Crown Court heard how the cats’ devastated owners, a father and daughter, who lived in two separate houses near Pearson’s home, began searching their neighbors’ gardens after their deaths.
Looking into the back yard of Pearson’s property, they saw two pots, one with a light blue liquid and one with tuna in it.
The pots were turned over to the RSPCA and both were found to contain high levels of ethylene glycol, a highly toxic substance to cats.
A veterinary expert opinion report concluded that it is “very likely that this [the pots] was the source of ethylene glycol that caused Luna and Bailey’s deaths.
The veterinary statement added that the “effects of ethylene glycol poisoning cause a cat to suffer via the mechanism of dehydration, with subsequent headaches, nausea, disorientation, weakness and collapse.”
Pearson pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to protected animals and his eight-month sentence was suspended for 18 months.
He was sentenced to 150 hours of unpaid labor and banned from keeping all animals for a period of five years; a ban that he cannot contest for at least four years.
He was also ordered to pay £2,000 in costs.
“We hope this shocking, landmark case sends a clear message”
After the hearing, RSPCA Inspector Simon Evans, who conducted the inquiry, said: “These poor cats were deliberately tricked into digesting a substance that is incredibly dangerous to cats and ultimately proved fatal to both.
“One cat died before it could even be taken to the vet, while another had to be euthanized to prevent suffering. Vets found clear evidence of the damage the ethylene glycol had done.
“The two bowls found in the defendant’s garden contained high concentrations of the dangerous substance – and he admitted in court that he had caused them to consume them, causing them needless suffering.
“We hope this shocking, landmark case sends a clear message to anyone who thinks about attacking cats in this way – it is wrong, illegal and will not be tolerated.”
The case had originally been heard in Cwmbran Magistrates Court, where Pearson pleaded guilty – but was referred to Cardiff Crown Court for sentencing.
The RSPCA believes this is the first such case to be referred in this way since the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 came into force last year; Evidence of the seriousness of the offence.
Previously the maximum sentence a judge could hand down for animal welfare offenses was six months in prison – but this has been increased tenfold to five years for certain animal welfare offenses and under new guidelines means such animal cruelty crimes are now possible before both magistrates’ Courts and Crown Court to reflect the new maximum sentence.
Hayley Firman of the RSPCA Prosecutor commented: “It is good to see the courts applying the new law as intended”.
RSPCA Cymru continues to remind cat owners of the symptoms of poisoning – and to know what to do if they fear their cat has been attacked.
Inspector Evans added: “This case reminds us that poisoning in pets does happen. Some of the symptoms these poor cats showed are typical of poisoning.
“Vomiting, depressed or drowsy behavior, drunk or uncoordinated demeanor, seizures, and difficulty breathing can be symptoms of a cat’s poisoning.”