A VULNERABLE Bradford woman has been banned from keeping animals for 10 years after police found cats, a dog, and a rabbit in “inhumane” conditions in her filthy one-bed flat.

However, Meren Wainhouse avoided prison after a judge took pity on her challenging life at the time, which included suffering from domestic abuse and poor mental health.

Prosecutor Lauren Smith told Bradford Crown Court that 17 live animals were found inside Wainhouse’s home on August 23 last year, which was covered in animal faeces and knee-deep in litter and rubbish.

A dead kitten was found in a shoe box.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The case was heard at Bradford Crown CourtThe case was heard at Bradford Crown Court (Image: Newsquest)

Officers who were tipped off about the animals – 15 cats, one dog, and a rabbit – were met with “an unbearable foul smell” from inside the flat, which was in “an appalling condition”.

Miss Smith told the court that neighbours called the police after becoming concerned for the welfare of the various animals in her care. They believed she had been breeding cats inside the small flat.

After initially refusing the police entry Wainhouse, now 26, was arrested when officers saw the state of her home and found a malnourished cat inside.

The animals were recovered by the RSPCA and examined by a vet who found that all of them had been living in inappropriate and dirty conditions and were infested with fleas.

A female cross-breed dog was suffering from hair loss and had overgrown nails. The female cat was so severely underweight that its bones were prominent. A rabbit, which was blind due to a painful eye condition, had to be put down.

In interview, Wainhouse admitted owning all the animals, which she planned to re-home.

She said they were fed twice daily, were registered with a vet, and denied intentionally breeding any of the cats but acknowledged a kitten had died and she had not had time to bury it.

She admitted that the animals’ living conditions were not acceptable but that she had struggled with her mental health for several months and consequently had no motivation to seek help and felt did not know where to begin.

Miss Smith said: “The cats were her everything. She felt that she had let them down and felt awful about it.”

Wainhouse later pleaded guilty to 20 separate offences: three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to protected animals and 17 counts of failing to ensure animal welfare was met. She was of previous good character.

Mitigating, Jo Shepherd said Wainhouse had been diagnosed as suffering from ADHD and was living in sheltered accommodation after finding herself in a difficult personal relationship that had since come to an end.

She said: “She accepts that during the two months that these offences took place … her mental health deteriorated and she hadn’t appreciated the effect that it had on her animals.

"With hindsight, she can see it quite clearly did.”

She added that Wainhouse no longer cared for any animals and the dog had been re-homed.

His Honour Judge Ahmed Nadim told Wainhouse: “At the time you committed these offences you were negotiating challenging circumstances in your personal life.

“You were involved in a relationship with a man who habitually abused you. You suffered from uncertain mental health and ADHD, which further compromised your ability to properly look after yourself and the animals that you were caring for.

“What you did can only be excused by your personal difficulties [although] you subjected innocent animals to pain [and] suffering that ordinarily would be described as inhuman and inexcusable.”

He said he had been persuaded not to send her to prison as a jail sentence would not help to provide the support she needed “to lead life as a socially responsible member of our society” and potentially damage her rehabilitation.

Wainhouse, now of Greaves Street, Little Horton, Bradford, was disqualified from keeping any animals for ten years, handed a two-year community order, and told to carry out 35 rehabilitation activity requirement days.