Man jailed for keeping injured birds and hedgehogs in 'squalid containers' without food or water

Ross Clifford admitted two animal welfare offences. Credit: RSPCA

A man from Andover who kept injured wildlife in unsuitable conditions has been jailed.

RSPCA inspectors were called to an address in Quicksilver Way in Andover on 14 October 2022, where they discovered Ross Clifford keeping injured birds and hedgehogs in squalid containers without food or water.

A tip by a member of the public led officers to find the dead or dying animals at the address.

A vet examined the animals in Clifford’s care and found pigeons without their needs being met, including a severely injured pigeon who had been kept in a wicker basket with heavily solid newspaper on the base without food or water or anywhere to perch.

Another pigeon was housed in a wardrobe in the bedroom, also without food or water.

A juvenile wood pigeon was also found in a collapsible crate, with another collapsible crate used as a lid.

A towel lined the base of the crate, very heavily soiled with multiple faecal deposits, some fresh and others older and drying.

No food or water was found in the crate.

A pigeon was rescued from squalid conditions. Credit: RSPCA

Hedgehogs were also found in unsuitable conditions, including one found in a plastic cat carrier alongside a small quantity of dried food but no water.

The hedgehog was very lethargic and dehydrated with sunken eyes and pale mucous membranes as a result.

Two juvenile hedgehogs were found together in a collapsible crate which had wet shredded newspaper and tissue alongside food which appeared to be mouldy.

They were both very lethargic and were lying motionless.

Another hedgehog, who had to be put to sleep because of the severity of his condition, was found in a plastic hamster cage without food and water, and with wet bedding which smelled of stale urine with an unsurvivable injury and dehydration.

One of the cages a hedgehog was found in. Credit: RSPCA

Inspector Miranda Albinson, who investigated for the charity, said: “Injured captive wildlife is completely reliant on those providing care to ensure their needs are met.

"Sadly, in this instance, that responsibility was not fulfilled.”

In mitigation, Clifford said it was well intended by incompetent care.

Having set up a wildlife rescue in his home, he was said to have been unable to care for the numbers as he would have wished.

He acknowledged that his premises were not set up to deal with wildlife rescue and that he fell short of the standards required by good practice.

Clifford, who is currently in Winchester HMP for unrelated offences, will see the 12-week sentence run concurrent to his existing sentence.

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