PICTURES released by the RSPCA show the "appalling" conditions faced at a rescue shelter after a man was banned from keeping animals for three years.

David Thompson, 51, received the ban at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Thursday after an RSPCA prosecution.

An inspector arrived at his rescue, D and K Fuzzy Ferrets and Fox Rescue, in Harwich Road, Colchester, in November 2019 and became concerned for the welfare of those inside.

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.

Read more: Animal rescue kept ferrets and birds in 'appalling' conditions

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

Brentwood Live:

Animals 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.

Brentwood Live: Beyond help: Several birds suffered to such an extent they were euthanisedBeyond help: Several birds suffered to such an extent they were euthanised

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.

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.

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As well as the ban on keeping animals, Thompson must also complete 250 hours of unpaid work and pay £710 in costs.

In mitigation, the court heard from Thompson's solicitor Alex Weller that he had continued to rescue animals since the raid in 2019.

"Lots of people contact him and he feels that they rely on him to assist the animals," he said.

Mr Weller said Thompson had successfully rescued and arranged for veterinary care for foxes this year.

He added: "He took it upon himself some ten years ago to change his life for the better, to turn a corner and to change his life trajectory.

"He wanted to give back to society.

"Mr Thompson has always been interested in wildlife, right from a young age, assisting his father with his racing pigeons.

"He's always been interested in rescuing animals."

Brentwood Live:

Mr Weller added: "It's correct that at the time of the raid in November 2019, Mr Thompson had got himself into great difficulties with his rescue.

"He was suffering from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder which has been diagnosed this year.

"Mr Thompson can pinpoint his slide into depression due to the loss of his site at Mistley Rescue Park.

"He had a site there where he kept a number of his ferrets.

"It came to his attention in the Spring of 2019 that area where Mr Thompson had kept his rescue ferrets was going to be sold off and his hard work was going to be bulldozed.

"Therefore he was going to lose a significant amount of his facilities. This caused Mr Thompson a great deal of stress.

"He had to move back some 20 ferrets to Harwich Road and through his love of the animals it soon became too much for him, which culminated in the scenes that are presented in the photographs.

"I would submit this is not a case of wanton neglect by Mr Thompson."

Brentwood Live:

But Hazel Stevens, prosecuting, said the animals seized and treated by the vets had been kept in squalid conditions, some suffering with medical conditions for weeks.

She said: “It’s aggravated by the fact Mr Thompson is in a position of responsibility, holding himself out as someone who can rescue and rehabilitate animals and then keeping them in appalling conditions.”

In interview, Thompson conceded the conditions were “a hell of a lot worse” than he thought.

Ms Stevens added: “These animals were failed significantly. 

“Mr Thompson does not have the knowledge and expertise he holds himself out to have. 

“Some of these wildlife creatures required specialist veterinary care.”