A bedroom overrun by fowl in Rachel Staines’ Beaudesert home.
A bedroom overrun by fowl in Rachel Staines’ Beaudesert home.

Foul reality of duck woman’s home

A WOMAN has been forced to shell out a whopping $42,000 for keeping 24 ducks in her home, in one of the most bizarre cases of animal neglect the RSPCA has ever seen.

Rachel Staines, 37, yesterday pleaded guilty in Beenleigh Magistrates Court to confining 24 ducks, 10 ducklings, four chickens, one guinea pig, three cats and two dogs in poor living conditions in her Beaudesert home.

Rachel Staines leaves Beenleigh Magistrates Court.
Rachel Staines leaves Beenleigh Magistrates Court.

In September last year, neighbours told the RSPCA animals were confined inside the house on a straw-strewn concrete slab as the flooring had been removed.

The concrete was damp from being hosed and "there was a strong odour of faeces and urine emanating from the house".

The RSPCA found Ms Staines had breached her duty of care to the animals, and she was charged with failing to take reasonable steps to provide for the animals' accommodation needs.

News Queensland has obtained exclusive photos of what the RSPCA and police discovered on October 17 last year when they executed a search warrant. They found the animals living in appalling conditions littered with faeces.

Ms Staines’ loungeroom
Ms Staines’ loungeroom

Barrister Chris Minnery told the judge the inspectors were "overwhelmed" by a very strong odour upon entry.

He said 20 of the adult ducks and all of the chickens were underweight, with five of the ducks and all of the chickens suffering mild bumblefoot - a bacterial infection and inflammatory reaction on the feet caused by unsanitary living conditions.

 

A box housing a guinea pig in the loungeroom
A box housing a guinea pig in the loungeroom

 

One of the chickens, which was emaciated and unable to walk, was later euthanised, with an autopsy indicating septic arthritis.

Solicitor Karl Brandon said his client admitted the living conditions were inappropriate, but only for a short period when the straw needed replacing.

He said his client had kept ducks outside until council seized some of them after a noise complaint. She then moved them inside so they could not be taken.

A bathtub containing green water
A bathtub containing green water

Mr Brandon said various factors in Ms Staines' life caused her to seek solace in the ducks, and she was "genuinely trying to look after" them.

Magistrate Ron Kilner said the living conditions were "what most people would consider to be bizarre behaviour".

Ms Staines will be forced to pay $42,409.50 in vet and boarding costs after refusing to surrender some of the ducks to the RSPCA, plus $92.90 in legal costs.

A second bathroom
A second bathroom

She has been banned from owning any animals, except two dogs and four cats, for two years, and was put on 12 months' probation. No conviction was recorded.

RSPCA prosecutions officer Tracey Jackson said "there can be no doubt that the defendant loved her ducks but, unfortunately ... love is not always enough".

All of the birds have since been rehomed.



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