A couple with five children who admitted cruelty after cramming 69 pets, including 56 dogs, into their home have been banned from keeping animals for eight years.

The RSPCA found the creatures living in squalid conditions when they raided James and Nicola Wood’s four-bedroom semi-detached house in Somerset.

As well as the dogs which included huskies, German shepherds, rottweilers and Staffordshire bull terriers, they also found three cats living in the bathroom, six birds, including love birds in various filthy cages, and four chinchillas.

Inspectors were “swamped by a sea of dogs” in the living room and “too many to count” in the back garden, Taunton magistrates court was told.

They also found the couple’s nine-month-old child in a bed that had sheets soiled with bird droppings.

Prosecutor Neil Scott said many of the animals were suffering from complaints affecting their eyes, teeth, ears and skin.

The court was also told that the children in the house were at risk of contracting disease from the animals.

“Every room was full of furniture. In the front room numerous pieces of furniture were piled on top of each other, with dog leads tied to various parts of the furniture,” Mr Scott said.

Ian Denley, defending Hood, 40, and his 32-year-old wife, said they thought of the house as an “animal sanctuary”.

He said they had taken in animals from friends and from people contacted on the internet which might otherwise have been put down.

The pair, of Queen’s Road in Minehead, admitted three charges of causing unnecessary suffering to animals and six of failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the needs of the animals were met, at an earlier hearing.

When they returned to the magistrates court for sentencing, they were each also ordered to pay £250 costs, which will go towards the RSPCA animal charity, and given a two-year conditional discharge.

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