Cat Farmer In Court
Home > Latest News | 23 Jan 2019
Today kitten farmer Christine Weisheit was found guilty on all 34 cruelty charges in relation to the seizure of 122 cats from her property in November 2014.
The seized cats suffered from a range of ailments including:
- Cat flu
- Emaciation (some with body score of 2)
- Gastrointestinal diseases and parasites
- Serious ear infections
- Dental disease
They were seized by RSPCA after Weisheit failed to comply with a number of notices issued previously in 2013 and again in 2014. During the inspection a horse had to be euthanised due to an untreated open infected wound on his leg which couldn’t weight-bare on and severe emaciation.
The court heard that Weisheit had a previous criminal history for animal neglect in NSW.
In September 2008 in Cessnock Magistrate Court, she was found guilty of aggravated animal cruelty and failing to provide adequate food and shelter. She was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, given a 5-year banning order and a fine of $27,000, which she is still paying off in weekly instalments.
Weisheit’s lawyer asked that a community based order be imposed, however the magistrate stated that after the 2008 court case in NSW "your client moved to Victoria and started again, it didn’t seem to be a deterrent” and that the 2008 case "didn't seem to prevent animals from further suffering”.
The court heard that Weisheit currently has 35 cats, 30 horses and 4 sheep - and her source of income is a fortnightly carers pension as she looks after her elderly mother.
Incredulously even though RSPCA asked for a 10-year banning order, they did not oppose Weisheit keeping 35 cats.
The magistrate appeared perplexed by this decision stating "can’t see having 35 cats makes any sense” and questioned how Weisheit could care for so many cats on a carers pension and that 1-2 cats would be more sensible - but would hear arguments from RSPCA on why she should be allowed to keep 35 cats. RSPCA's arguments were based on their belief she could not look after 122 cats but could look after 35 cats.
In sentencing, the Magistrate found all charges proven and took into account Weisheit's plea of guilty.
During sentencing however, Weisheit kept shaking her head, with the Magistrate commenting "There is no point shaking your head at me you have plead guilty". Weisheit then asked to speak but the Magistrate said no and told her to sit down. He then approached Weisheit's lawyer stating "your client is showing a lack of remorse and seems to think she is not guilty even after her plea”. He then adjourned court for 5 minutes so the lawyer could speak to Weisheit about her behaviour in court.
When court resumed, Weisheit sat sobbing loudly, her lawyer stating "she is overcome with emotion Your Honour”.
The Magistrate stated that it was not merely a case of cat flu but this was a case of widespread cruelty and neglect, made even more serious due to previous charges that resulted in a 12-month suspended prison sentence.
Weisheit received $11,000 in fines, ordered to pay $10,000 in costs and given a banning order for 10 years except for the ownership of the 35 cats. The magistrate would have imposed a full banning order but took into account the RSPCA not concerned by Weisheit keeping 35 cats. A monitoring order was also issued.We are incredibly disappointed that the RSPCA argued against a full banning order which the magistrate wanted to hand down. We are at a loss as to how someone on a carers pension can afford to look after 35 cats, 30 horses and 4 sheep and care for her elderly mother while also paying off her NSW fines and now her Victorian fines. With a long history of animal abuse and neglect, these animals are at risk and the RSPCA should have and could have fought harder for them.
According to RSPCA the 122 seized cats cost RSPCA $160,000 in veterinary care and treatment. One can only wonder why they were so reluctant to side with the magistrate and agree to a full banning order.
Weishet's disrespect and flouting of the law is further exampled in an online ad selling a kitten discovered by Oscar's Law investigators after the court outcome. She has clearly continued to sell and breed cats. The RSPCA's actions in allowing 35 cats to remain on the property have allowed this to happen.Many thanks to Inspectors Jalbert and Primrose who worked on this case in 2013-2014. They are no longer working for the RSPCA having joined a long line of people leaving the RSPCA in Victoria.
Weisheit will be back in court in two weeks on even more cruelty charges related to the seizure of over 100 horses in February 2016 .