Six dogs and bearded dragon found 'living in faeces' in Gloucestershire house

One dog needed to have its eye removed. Credit: Gloucestershire News Service

A couple whose six dogs and pet bearded dragon lizard were found neglected and living in squalid conditions have been handed suspended jail terms and banned from keeping dogs for five years.

Magistrates in Cheltenham were told that animal welfare officials were alerted to the welfare of Stacey and Jon McDermott's pets in New Road, Bream, near Lydney, when Mrs McDermott, 54, handed over two of the dogs to a local dog rescue centre.

The dogs were examined by vets and found to be in poor health and staff at the centre then made repeated attempts to visit the couple because they were aware they also had other dogs which might also be suffering.

The RSPCA then became involved Forest of Dean District Council obtained a warrant to get access to the couple's property on 9 February.

On entry, the smell of urine and dog faeces was so overpowering it made one of the officers retch, the court was told.

Prosecutor Alex Kirk said: “The master bedroom was in a shocking state as six crossbreed adult cavapoo dogs were kept inside.

“The quantity of faeces was overwhelming and the amount of it showed that the room hadn’t been cleaned for a number of months.“The dogs were seized and were found to be suffering from a number of conditions.

“One had an infection in its eye which had to be removed by a vet while another was significantly smaller than the others."Another three dogs had otitis (a middle ear infection) in both ears while the remainder were suffering from long-term skin inflammations causing them animal’s pain, itching and overall long-term suffering."

Mr Kirk explained that the house was in a cluttered state with an "overwhelming stench of ammonia and fleas", while the garden, which was mostly concreted over, was full of building materials and trailers.

Mr Kirk added: “Inside an outbuilding there was a cage that contained a bearded dragon lizard which, because of the lack of ultraviolet light, was not the sandy-yellow colour it would normally be.“When the cage was opened the lizard did not move or react. The lizard was seized and ultimately taken to a reptile sanctuary.”Mr Kirk added: “This was a long-standing period of neglect where the animals suffered badly, contracting severe eye and ear conditions along with skin inflammation. The amount of faeces discovered showed this was not a recent occurrence but had been going on for some time."

Holly Burton, acting for both Mr and Mrs McDermot, said the couple were in financial straits and owed more than £10,000 in various debts.

She added: “Both of them have mental health difficulties and were living themselves among these poor living conditions.

"The couple did not deliberately mistreat the animals, but had become neglectful, mainly due to the deterioration of their mental health."

Mrs McDermott pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to dogs in her care and two counts of failing to meet the needs of the dogs and a bearded dragon in her care. Mr McDermott pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to meet an animal’s needs for the bearded dragon and all six dogs.

Both were ordered to pay a contribution towards court costs of £750 each and a mandatory surcharge of £154.