Happy Paws Haven hearing continues
HAPPY Paws Haven founder Sally Ann Rogers felt "compelled" to sign a document handed to her by an RSPCA inspector out of fear that cats would be euthanased, a court has heard.
The animal welfare hearing into Ms Rogers continued at Grafton Local Court yesterday after she pleaded not guilty to two charges of being in charge of an animal and failing to provide vet treatment and being in charge of an animal and failing to exercise control.
The Happy Paws Haven pet sanctuary at Eatonsville was the subject of a raid by RSPCA inspectors on July 31, 2017, after a formal complaint about a concern for animal welfare.
RSPCA Chief Inspector Scott Meyers said he had attended Happy Paws "at least 10 times over the years" but it was the first time he had executed a warrant to search the home on the property.
"The house was used for sick cats and kittens," Mr Meyers said.
Mr Meyers told the court he read through a notice "word by word" with Ms Rogers which outlined her requirement to get some cats vet treatment.
Ms Rogers' defence barrister Ben Cochrane submitted to the court the notice signed by his client was inadmissible as evidence and it could not prove Ms Rogers to be the person in charge of the animals.
Mr Cochrane said Ms Rogers believed if she failed to sign the notice Mr Meyers could exercise his powers to seize the animals and potentially euthanase them.
The court heard from Mr Meyers that the RSPCA only has the power to take that measure under a vet's instruction as a last resort.
Mr Cochrane also submitted that Ms Rogers signed the document as a "public officer" rather than a person in charge of the animals.
Magistrate Karen Stafford said the notice was "an admission that goes to an essential" part of the case.
"This is a signature that acknowledges she had been given directions, that she is a person responsible for following those directions," she said.
The court heard Ms Rogers had on an earlier occasion with Mr Meyers declined to sign a similar notice.
Ms Stafford said this showed Ms Rogers had an understanding of what it meant to take the responsibility of signing it.
According to documents tendered to the court, Ms Stafford said Ms Rogers had made a comment about her concerns for the fate of the animals early in the raid.
Ms Stafford said there was no evidence that showed Ms Rogers made the comment to Mr Meyers when signing the notice that she had fears for the cats.
Ms Rogers, who will not be giving evidence in the hearing, sat at the back of the court shaking her head as Ms Stafford judged the evidence admissible.
"I'm just upset because it is not true," Ms Rogers yelled out to the open courtroom.
Ms Rogers will next appear at Ballina Local Court on July 12 before Ms Stafford.