Sting of the Day: Northumbria woman banned from keeping birds after cramming owls in filthy, tiny cages

A woman has been banned from looking after birds for life after she turned her garden shed into an over crowded aviary.

Jackie Cullen was so fascinated with owls that she crammed 13 them into tiny cages where they did not have space to flap their wings. Among her sad collection were two types of eagle owl and also a beautiful, pure white snowy owl.

tawny owl

Cullen, who lives in Seahouses, Northumbria, has now been banned from keeping birds for life and ordered to pay £500 compensation after being found guilty of animal welfare offences.

She appeared at Hastings Magistrates’ Court on July 3 after an investigation by the RSPCA.

After the case, the RSPCA put out an alert, asking the public to contact their emergency hotline if Cullen decides to collect any more birds. The RSPCA says it is concerned about people keeping exotic animals as pets and reminds anyone thinking about buying one that they must have the knowledge to provide their welfare needs. RSPCA inspector Cora Peeters described how she was left shocked the moment she saw Cullen’s tragic menagerie.

“It took my breath away when I walked into that shed and saw the rows of these beautiful birds crammed into tiny, filthy cages,” said Inspector Peeters.

“There was just not enough room for them, and they were leading miserable lives. It was heartbreaking to see.

“The defendant is a habitual collector of birds and there is a real concern she may reoffend – so we ask anyone who knows of her collecting birds again to call our cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.”

“Owls are stunning animals which appeal to many people but they do not make good pets and are not suited to a domestic setting. “They are wild animals and have specialist needs which are hard to cater for in a captive environment, and we urge anyone wanting to keep them at home to think twice about what they are taking on.

“Owls are by nature generally shy and reclusive birds, preferring to spend most of their time roosting in a secluded place, and most species are nocturnal. They need a very large aviary with a sheltered roosting area and a specialist diet. They also have sharp talons and strong feet that can inflict deep puncture wounds and scratches.”

Among the owls crammed into cages were a Bengal eagle owl, Turkmenian eagle owl, Chaco owl, snowy owl and a great horned owl. All the owls have now been been re-homed by a specialist.

[ Editor’s note: I am aware this was from a few days ago. Still great news she’s been banned though! ]

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