Pet ban for couple who kept ‘sea of animals’ in home

 

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A COUPLE with five young kids kept 56 big dogs and other pets crammed into their four-bedroom semi.

When animal inspectors raided the house, they found a nine-month-old baby in a bed soiled with bird droppings.

All James and Nicola Hood’s children were said to be at risk of contracting disease from the animals.

The RSPCA inspectors were “swamped by a sea of dogs” in the living room during the raid and said there were “too many to count” in the back garden.

James, 40, and Nicola, 32, were yesterday banned from keeping animals for eight years.

As well as the dogs, which included huskies, alsatians, rottweilers and Staffordshire bull terriers, they had three cats, six birds, including love birds in dirty cages, and four chinchillas.

In court yesterday, the Hoods’ lawyer Ian Denley said they thought of the house as an animal sanctuary and were devastated by the loss of the dogs.

He added: “The irony of this case is that both Mr Hood and Mrs Hood are animal-loving people.

“Clearly this enterprise got out of control and both my clients accept that was the case.” The family currently have two gerbils, two hamsters, a cat, a lizard, four cockatiels and a green Amazon parrot, the court heard.

Mr Denley also claimed the family had received death threats and had bricks and eggs thrown at their house.

The Hoods had earlier admitted nine animal cruelty charges at their home in Minehead, Somerset.

The prosecution had told the court in March many of the animals had been suffering from complaints affecting their eyes, teeth, ears and skin, some of them for up to a year.

Neighbours complained of endless noise from the dogs and said the smell was so bad, it stopped them going into their own gardens.

Taunton Magistrates’ Court chairman Keith Parks yesterday told the couple: “Taking into account your early guilty pleas, your lack of previous convictions and your inability to comply with a community order, we are imposing a conditional discharge for 24 months.”

They were also ordered to pay £250 each towards the RSPCA’s costs at £5 each a week.

The conditional discharge means the Hoods will be re-sentenced if they breach the conditions of their release.

Speaking outside the court, RSPCA inspector Amanda Swift said: “This case highlights the need for a scheme to properly register dogs.”

When RSPCA officers raided the house last October, they said they were immediately hit by a “strong smell of ammonia” after entering the “dirty” house.

Most of the dogs have been rehomed.

Somerset County Council said they were made aware of the family and dealt with the issue of child safety.

 
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