Paramedic Simon Butterworth, 32, and wife Lesley, a 29-year-old nurse, admitted failing to provide necessary care and supervision by failing to prevent injured black and white cats Stella and Guinness from leaving their home.
The couple, described as responsible pet owners of good character, appeared at Teesside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
The couple, of Appleby Close, Darlington, along with the RSPCA, made an appeal for information in The Northern Echo in June 2008, after both cats returned home with mysterious injuries, receiving skin damage, broken ribs and internal injuries in two incidents.
As a result of the injuries, Stella died and Guinness had her tail docked.
It is unclear how the cats were hurt, but the couple have always denied injuring them.
Yesterday, Kieran Rainey, in mitigation, told the court that the couple, who recently had their first baby, were experienced and responsible pet owners.
He said: “They had two cats and both were injured by someone or something else.”
He said the couple had struggled to keep their pets inside because of the nature of cats.
The court was told that both Stella and Guinness escaped from the house despite the couple trying to keep them inside on vets’ advice.
Mr Rainey added: “This is the first and only time they have fallen below the high standard of care they set for themselves.”
He said an incident where the couple’s cocker spaniel, Scrumpy, then a six-monthold puppy, tried to play with Guinness, causing her to hide under the sofa, was an oversight on the couple’s part.
He added: “Both are of impeccable character. Both have been in steady jobs all their lives”, and said it would be inappropriate to ban the couple from keeping animals.
The RSPCA case had cost £13,000, excluding vets’ fees.
District judge Kristina Harrison fined Simon Butterworth £560, and ordered him to pay £500 costs.
She fined Lesley Butterworth, who is on maternity leave, £100, ordering her to pay £100 towards costs.
Judge Harrison said: “I do not think it is appropriate to impose on you a disqualification of having control of animals.
I take into account the professions you are in and your previous good character.” http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/5035510.Couple_in_court_after_pet_cats_escape_house/