A Staffordshire couple have been disqualified from keeping animals after gas workers raised the alarm about the condition pets were being kept in.
They say they discovered the dirty cages of animals at the Stoke-on-Trent home of the 29-year-old woman and 41-year-old man.
They called the RSPCA and Inspector Charlotte Melvin attended to find 23 animals - from pets to exotics to wild animals - being kept in 'tiny, filthy cages and rubbish-strewn rooms'.
She said: “When I arrived at the property the couple wouldn’t let me inside so I waited outside for over two hours until police arrived.
“During that time the family carried bin bag after bin bag of rubbish out of the house.
“When I finally went inside it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Even though they’d been clearing out for two hours it was still absolutely filthy and the animals were being kept in horrifying conditions.
“There was cage after cage and animal after animal. The rooms were strewn with rubbish, all of the animals’ accommodation was filthy and their welfare needs were clearly not being met.
“It was disgusting and it was mass-scale neglect.”
One cat, two dogs, a rat and eight degus were removed from the property along with an African grey parrot, five snakes, a bearded dragon, a lizard and a fox, a barn owl and a raccoon dog.
The couple appeared in court in Newcastle on Thursday (1 November), and were given a 12-month community order including a 30-hour rehabilitation requirement. They were each ordered to pay £150 in costs and £85 victim surcharge.
Both were disqualified from keeping animals for three years.
Sadly, one of the dogs (pictured) was in such poor condition vets decided the only option was to put her to sleep to end her suffering. The other animals remain in RSPCA care and can now be rehomed or moved to suitable keepers.
“Many of these animals simply shouldn’t be kept as pets let alone kept like this,” Inspector Melvin added.
“To see these poor animals living in such squalor was heartbreaking. I’m just glad they can all now have a second chance at find loving new homes where their needs will be properly catered to.”