Some of the 56 dogs that James and Nicola Hood kept in their back garden in terrible conditions
A couple admitted neglect yesterday for keeping 56 dogs in the back garden of their semi-detached home.
Animal welfare officers found 69 animals - including 56 dogs, six birds, three cats and four chinchillas - at the family home of James Hood, 40, and wife Nicola, 31.
The couple - who also have five children including a nine-month-old baby - admitted keeping the malnourished and disease-ridden pets in filthy conditions.
The Hood couple appeared at Taunton Magistrates' Court yesterday where they admitted neglect
They pleaded guilty to nine animal welfare charges yesterday after a court was told how they had turned their home into a makeshift 'animal sanctuary'.
Neil Scott, prosecuting at Taunton Magistrates Court in Somerset, said RSPCA officers were greeted with a 'sea of dogs barking wildly' when they visited their home in Minehead in October last year.
He said: 'On arrival the inspector was eventually let into the house and could smell the strong scent of ammonia.
'She asked to see the animals and was allowed to do so. She describes being met by a sea of dogs, barking wildly.
'Mr Hood struggled to control them. The officer withdrew and came back later with veterinary surgeons and police officers.'
Officials conducted a full search of their four-bedroomed home and small grounds - discovering a total of 56 dogs crammed into their back garden.
They counted 36 huskies, four collies, two German shepherds, two Labradors, one boxer dog, two Staffordshire bull terriers with two puppies, one springer spaniel, two Doberman, three rotweillers and one greyhound.
With not much room in the garden, the dogs became disease ridden and some of them were malnourished
As well as the 56 birds, the Hoods had six birds, three cats and four chinchillas
A large proportion of the dogs were malnourished and underweight, while three had eye infections and 12 had ear infections.
Officers also found three cats kept in an upstairs bathroom and four parakeets in the bedroom of the crying nine-month old baby. They later discovered faeces from the birds on the baby’s blanket.
Mr Scott told the court that the pets could have a number of diseases which could be passed to humans.
He said: 'The whole house smelt and there was furniture piled high in most of the rooms - which had their curtains drawn.'
The pair were arrested and admitted nine charges, including three of causing unnecessary suffering and six of treatment contrary to the Animal Welfare Act.
Ian Denly, defending the couple, insisted they were animal lovers who had taken in pets that were due to be pit down.
He said: 'Ironically they are animal loving people who sought to look after animals from people who were destined to be euthanised.
'The majority of the animals they took in were from people who were unable to cope and used them as an animal sanctuary.
'They have effectively sought to look after these animals but were not able to do that by the sheer volume of animals they took in.'
Pierce Brunt, chair of the bench at Taunton Magistrates Court, adjourned the sentencing of the couple until April 19 for psychiatric reports.
The couple were released on bail and did not comment as they left court.