A Swansea couple has been convicted of 30 counts of causing unnecessary suffering to 163 animals kept at their home.
Margaret Jones, 48 and her husband Glyndwr, 54, had been using their three-bedroom, semi-detached council house, which they shared with their four children, to keep 56 cats, 23 gerbils, 22 rabbits, 20 snakes, 10 tarantulas, 10 hamsters, nine ferrets, five exotic lizards, four mice, three rats and a dog.
Swansea magistrates heard how RSPCA Inspector Nigel Duguid visited the Jones' home in Gorseinon in September 2002 after a tip-off from a neighbour.
The Jones were operating an animal sanctuary from the house and advertised the service in local newspapers, offering a safe haven for unwanted animals. In reality the animals went to a filthy house, were underfed and not provided with the correct veterinary treatment. Inspector Duguid described the house as "worse than a prison camp for animals".
The Jones were both banned for life from keeping any animal except one dog, one rabbit and three cats. They were also given a three-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay Â£300 costs. All animals, except one cat, were confiscated and have since been rehomed.
The couple launched an appeal, which prevented the RSPCA from being able to rehome the animals sooner, but withdrew it just before the hearing.
Chief Superintendent Hamish Rogers said: "The sheer number of animals in this case meant that it was always going to cost the Society a lot of money, but that cost increased dramatically when the Jones appealed. It meant that the RSPCA couldn't rehome the pets so had to continue to pay boarding costs.
"We could not have left the animals in situ so we had to act. The Animal Welfare Bill would do away with so-called 'sanctuaries', and RSPCA inspectors would be able to act sooner."
From the RSPCA website