Judy Shaw (17/10/1972) and Peter Hardy (7/8/1962), of Dorset Close, Unstone, Dronfield, kept the animals on land near their home in what were described by the RSPCA inspector in her court statement as ‘abhorrent conditions’.
Shaw was found guilty of 10 charges relating to animal welfare offences including causing unnecessary suffering and failing to meet the needs of animals while Hardy was found guilty of 11 when the pair appeared at Chesterfield Magistrates Court.
The court heard how RSPCA were called to investigate on July 2, 2019 along with officers from Derbyshire police following reports from concerned members of the public.
RSPCA inspector Rachel Leafe, who led the investigation, said some of the cats were found locked in an old tractor cab (pictured below) with no food and water, others were locked in a shed, some in a children’s Wendy House.
Others were in an old static caravan (pictured) with tarpaulin covering the windows with very little natural light or ventilation.
Some were also housed in two rubbish- and faeces-filled trailers.
Inside, the areas the cats were kept in were also full of faeces and, in some cases, the floor surfaces were not visible.
They also smelt of ammonia causing the rescuers’ eyes to water and the temperature in the caravan was also very hot, the court heard.
In her statement to the court, Insp Leafe, describing the static caravan, said: “This environment was completely abhorrent.
“There were months and months if not years of faeces inside, all areas were covered in a deep layer of faeces and there was mould all over it.
“The stench was chemical in nature and completely overpowering. I did not fully go in but even from the door it was difficult to breathe and my eyes watered.
“There was some water put in a black container on top of the faeces but there were no bowls I could see leading me to think that the food was just thrown on top of the faeces.
“There was a window however this was covered with what appeared to be a curtain and inside was very dark. There was essentially no natural light or any ventilation for them. “
An independent veterinary expert in her witness statement said the build up of faeces must have taken place over several years to get so deep and added: “There was also mould and fungus everywhere. It is the worst environment I have ever seen in 34 years of doing my job.”
Horses and ponies were also found in similar makeshift areas full of faeces and rubbish including the skull of a pony and other animal bones.
Describing one makeshift pen holding two ponies, inspector Leafe said: “The whole area looked unsafe as it was a number of gates/pallets tied together with string holding in approximately four feet of faeces so the ponies towered above me (pictured).
“There were two water buckets with a small amount of water in. There was no hay, no bedding and no dry standing. The shelter was divided into two but neither pony could get inside properly as they touched the roof.”
The horses and ponies were also in poor condition, some were underweight and others had deformed and curled hooves and struggled to walk (pictured). Some also had worm and flea infestations.
The vet added: “The overall picture for the equines of rubbish piled up, deep faeces in stables, incorrect disposal of bodies, numerous untreated health problems and ponies kept in groups where the weakest were allowed to become weaker without being attended to paints a depressing scene of equine animal management.
“The conditions that the cats were kept in were so appalling I cannot believe how anyone could think this was appropriate to keep cats in this manner.
“It is appalling to see such animals in these conditions on such a scale. All of the issues could have been so easily resolved by correct management, basic husbandry such as flea and worm treatment, fresh water and feeding.
At their sentencing hearing on May 18, the pair were also ordered to pay £1200 costs and a £90 victim surcharge each. They were also handed a 12-month community order including 24 weeks curfew from 7pm to 7am.
The horses and cats in RSPCA care will be found homes once the appeal period has expired.