A WOMAN who was banned from keeping pets after mistreating 11 dogs, six birds, a cat and a tortoise, will not be allowed to keep more animals for five years despite an appeal.

Heather Stanton, 61, of Williton Road, Washford, was found guilty of 12 offences and pleaded guilty to a further two offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in January and was banned from keeping dogs, cats, birds, and tortoises for five years.

She appeared at Taunton Crown Court on Friday (April 5) to appeal against the five-year disqualification.

Prosecuting, Iain O'Donnell said Stanton's case came to light after she presented one of her dogs for veterinary examination. 

The condition of the animals gave veterinary surgeons concern for the welfare of those dogs and other animals at her property and as a result the vet called the RSPCA.

The court heard an RSPCA officer visited her home, where 12 dogs, a cat, six birds and a tortoise were housed in inappropriate conditions.

Mr O'Donnell said Stanton initially refused to let the inspector into her home and when inspectors entered, many of the animals were found to have chronic health conditions that had been left untreated, including eye, ear and skin problems.

A solicitor defending Stanton said she had 'too much to cope with' at the time of the offences but is in a much better position to look after animals now.

He said: "One dog, 10 cats and six birds remained with Stanton despite the convictions and she has rehomed some of them.

"At the time of the offences Stanton found out that her 85-year-old mother had dementia, she had a full time job and she was looking after a number of animals and she struggled to cope. It all just became too much for her.

"It wasn't a case of complete neglect, she did keep diaries and documented their health and took one of her dogs to the vet quickly when it fell ill.

"She thinks of these animals like she does of her mother as family and she is in a much better position to look after them now."

The court heard Stanton found out on Thursday (April 5) that she had lost her job as a result of the offences and Asher said Stanton is desperate to have animals again.

The solicitor said: "Stanton will have more time to look after the animals now that she doesn't have a job.

"She says with her mum's help she will be able to look after the animals.

"Stanton is not currently working but does have £2,000 in savings. She has already completed all of her community service sentence and paid £2,600 in costs."

Judge David Ticehurst denied Stanton's appeal and ordered her to pay £2,000 in costs to the RSPCA.

Judge Ticehurst said: "We recognise the great value to the animals she attributes but it is clear that the judge made the disqualification order for a reason."