Over 50 animals have been rescued from a sanctuary living in ”squalid” conditions including 25 caged dogs left covered in their own faeces, it emerged today.
The dehydrated and filthy creatures were removed from the St Francis Animal Sanctuary in Hertfordshire during a raid by the RSPCA.
As well as a number of dogs, officers discovered a dozen cats, several ponies, geese, sheep and goats, including some which were badly emaciated.
RSPCA officers executed a warrant on Tuesday under the Animal Welfare Act to search the four-acre site, which had no running water.
It has been run for the past 30 years by Fred Brimley, who is in his 80s and lives there with his wife, and the couple had allegedly been struggling to cope recently.
A police source today described the ”grim” scene found by officers at the site on the A1000 at Brookmans Park, near Hatfield.
She said: ”The site is run by an elderly couple who have taken in animals, including a number of dogs housed in cages, and live in a caravan on the site.
”But there is no source of running water on the site and the animals were in a terrible state.
”They say they are getting large plastic containers but they would not be enough for the amount of animals they had there.
”There were issues with the dogs being in cages that hadn’t been cleaned out and not being walked regularly enough.
”There was animal mess all over the place and the smell was dreadful. It was a grim sight.”
Vet Tony White from the Wood Street Veterinary Hospital in Barnet, Enfield, attended the scene and checked the 50 animals.
He said: ”The dogs are being fed but these are not suitable conditions, they are squalid, dirty and unhygienic, there is faeces everywhere.
”It’s sad but we can’t leave them like this.”
RSPCA inspector Kirsty Hampton said: ”They shouldn’t be allowed to live in their own faeces.”
The animals were taken to the RSPCA Southridge Animal Centre in South Mimms, Herts., to be cared for and eventually rehomed.
A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said that an investigation had been launched into the treatment of the animals.
She said: ”Following a joint visit to the premises with the police and a veterinary surgeon yesterday, a number of animals have been taken into possession under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
”We are now conducting an investigation in relation to these animals and cannot comment further at this time.”
A spokeswoman for Hertfordshire police said that officers attended the scene to assist the RSPCA.
She said: ”Police and RSPCA officers attended the St Francis Animal Sanctuary on Tuesday where we found around 25 dogs, a dozen cats and a number of geese, sheep and goats.
”No arrests were made and the matter has now been passed to the RSPCA to deal with as they see fit.”