A BROUGHTON couple did not take their suffering pets to the vets for fear they would be put down, Chester Magistrates Court has heard.

Carl Hollis, 56 and Melanie Hollis, 51, both of Warren Drive, had previously received advice twice from the RSPCA that two labradors owned by Carl Hollis had a skin condition which required treatment at the vets.

Melanie Hollis, meanwhile, was responsible for looking after a number of cats which were at the property, many of which had fleas and/or were underweight.

But neither of them took the animals to the vet in what Chester Magistrates Court heard was "misplaced loyalty".

Carl Hollis pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the two dogs while Melanie Hollis pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to five cats.

Both received a 12-month community order and were banned from keeping animals for 10 years when they appeared in the dock on Thursday, November 29.

Prosecuting, Chris Murphy said the couple had received RSPCA advice and a voucher for veterinary care in September 2017 and December 2017 following concern for the two dogs, both of which had a skin condition.

When the RSPCA inspector visited the property on June 30, she was informed the couple had gone on a two-week holiday, to return on July 10, and left the sons to periodically go round and check on the animals.

On initial sight there were 10 cats seen at the property and there was dried cat and dog food in the bowls.

It was noted both dogs had extensive hair loss and there was a strong smell of ammonia in the front room, with puddles on the floor and dirty water in the bowls.

In total there were seven cats, six kittens and two labradors at the property. However, it was accepted most of these were strays and/or felines not owned by the couple.

All animals were taken to the vets to be checked over. None of the animals were microchipped.

One of the cats – which was about 20 years old – had to be put to sleep, but all the other animals were doing well, the court heard, and some had been rehomed.

When interviewed, Carl Hollis accepted owning the dogs and said he did not take the dogs – which were in their mid to late teens – to the vets for fear they would be put to sleep.

Melanie Hollis, when interviewed, accepted the cats had not received the veterinary care they should have.

She admitted she had taken on "far more than she could chew" by letting all the stray cats in.

Their two sons were spoken to and between them had visited the property daily to check on the animals.

Defending Melanie Hollis, Richard Thomas said she had been looking after animals for more than 30 years and there had been no prior advice for her from the RSPCA regarding the welfare of the cats.

It had been accepted the 20-year-old cat was in poor health and was dying, and would likely be put to sleep if it had been taken to the vets, but "misplaced loyalty" meant she just could not face doing it.

With all the animals at the home, the situation had "become slightly chaotic," Mr Thomas added.

Although Carl Hollis was not represented, Mr Thomas said on his behalf: "He had owned these animals for 15-16 years; he tried to treat them at home but admittedly should have taken them to the vets. There was nothing deliberate about the mistreatment."

Carl Hollis added: "I apologise for the mistreatment, I was ignorant."

A report from probation heard neither defendant had mental health issues or alcohol/drug misuse and recommended they be subject to unpaid work and a curfew.

Both defendants accepted they would probably not look after animals again.

Chair of magistrates Ian Williams said: "The bench do look on animal cruelty very seriously, even though it was pointed out by a lot of people in this courtroom that it was misguided loyalty.

"Clearly the animals were neglected and we have to take into account the RSPCA stepped in previously."

Carl Hollis must complete 200 hours unpaid work while Melanie Hollis must do 150 hours unpaid work.

Each must pay £445 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.