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Ban for Bettws woman after bearded dragons left to suffer

Credit: RSPCA Cymru

A Bettws woman has been banned from keeping all animals for three years after leaving two bearded dragons in a vacated property to suffer – with one ultimately losing his life.

Jayde Melanie Ross, 26 – now of Monnow Way – earlier pleaded guilty to two Animal Welfare Act (2006) offences at Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court, and was sentenced at Newport Magistrates’ Court last Thursday (30 January).

Credit: RSPCA Cymru

RSPCA Cymru was contacted after the bearded dragons – one male, and one female – were found abandoned at the property, in a vivarium setup without working heating. They were signed into the care of the RSPCA in June 2019.

Both bearded dragons were found in a shocking state. One was severely emaciated to such a degree that it would have taken a period of weeks to months to deteriorate so much; while the other had suspected renal disease, parasite infections and conjunctivitis.

These reptiles have very complex needs, and are diurnal basking animals from the inland of Australia. As such, they have a very high requirement for heat and UVB lighting and their physiological processes are temperature dependent.

Wales’ climate is too cool for these lizards to function normally without adequate facilities – so the absence of appropriate heating placed these animals “in grave danger” and was a “derelict of duty” from the owner, according to the investigating RSPCA officer. She said it “beggars belief” that the owner had not made more effort to retrieve the animals from the property or make arrangements for their care.

A water bowl had been re-filled by a new tenant, but had been found empty – with the lizards’ condition suggesting they had been without necessary food and water for some while.

Sadly, one of the bearded dragons had to be put to sleep due to the extent of his injuries; while the other was transferred to a specialist wildlife centre ahead for rehoming.

Ross was banned from keeping all animals for a period of three years, and told to pay £400 in costs, a £390 fine and a £31 surcharge.

Sophie Daniels, RSPCA Inspector , said: “We found these poor bearded dragons in a shocking state – with one barely moving as a consequence of her condition; and both appearing very lethargic, depressed and with their bones prominent.

“Bearded dragons have very complex needs – and Wales’ cool climate means heating facilities are essential. Leaving these animals without heat placed them in grave danger, and it beggars belief that more effort had not been made to retrieve these animals or make sure they were safe after the tenant left the property.

“Owning pets is a privilege – but what we saw here was a derelict of duty that sadly resulted in one bearded dragon losing his life; and another suffering unnecessarily for a prolonged period of time.

“Thankfully, it wasn’t too late for the other lizard – but this sad case is a stark reminder as to the complex needs these animals have; and the responsibilities of owners to meet those needs.”