ANIMALS were kept in “appalling” conditions by a rescue shelter which had claimed it was able to care for them.

When an RSPCA inspector arrived at the shelter, in Harwich Road, Colchester, in November 2019, she could see flies around the letterbox.

Police officers and RSPCA inspectors entered the property and found horrifying conditions within, with one police constable reporting she was almost sick due to the smell.

In total, 44 ferrets and polecats, four foxes, three jackdaws, two pigeons, a dove, two crows and a hedgehog were removed from the premises.

David Thompson, 51, who runs the shelter, D and K Fuzzy Ferrets and Fox Rescue, appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court yesterday and was banned from keeping animals for three years.

During the raid, the conditions were described as filthy, with many of the birds covered in faeces and suffering ragged feathers as a result of their squalid habitats.

Brentwood Live: Animals were found covered in filth and underweightAnimals were found covered in filth and underweight

Also seized were a large number of dead ferrets, a dead barn owl and some unidentified dead animals.

All of the ferrets and polecats bar three were found to be underweight, and were suffering from a variety of conditions – some of which were felt by the vet to be the result of poor feeding.

Nine animals had swelling to the eyes and required antibiotics, a number had gingivitis, thinning fur and bald patches which resolved once in care.

One ferret had to have an eye removed, with the vet asserting the painful condition had been present for a minimum of 21 days.

Several birds had to be euthanised.

Many of the animals made a full recovery following veterinary intervention.

Thompson admitted charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and failing to take all reasonable steps to ensure the needs of an animal for which he was responsible are met.

Brentwood Live: The conditions were described as appallingThe conditions were described as appalling

Hazel Stevens, prosecuting at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court yesterday, said: “This was supposed to be a rescue organisation, holding itself out as having knowledge and experience of ferrets and foxes.

“There was prolonged neglect and ill-treatment, and animals were suffering and others were likely to suffer had they been left in that situation.

“Animals required euthanasia, some birds having been left with broken and dislocated bones.”

Banning Thompson from keeping animals for three years, chair of the bench David Murtagh said: “You’ve got no relevant previous convictions, you were unwell at the time with mental health difficulties.

“We note your lifelong commitment to the care of animals, we take all of that into account.

“Nevertheless we cannot get away from the fact that what we saw in the photographs was absolutely appalling.

“We heard the police describe it as absolutely disgusting, we’ve heard the neighbours at the time were unable to open their windows because of the smell, and several animals were found dead during the inspection – either found dead or had to be put down at some later point.”

Thompson must also complete 250 hours of unpaid work and pay £710 in costs.

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