A FORMER show judge admitted 23 charges of animal cruelty when she appeared before magistrates last week. Former judge Alessia Duggan, 53, let the emaciated cross spaniels defecate and urinate in her house, in Heathfield Road, Handsworth.
She could not bear to be parted from the dogs, some of which had belonged to her two children and husband who were killed in a road accident in 1988.
Mrs Duggan lived with the shutters down and refused visitors to disguise the squalor in which she was living. She fed the dogs and herself on her £55 a week unemployment benefit.
Birmingham magistrates chairman Jan Jellema said: "The condition of these dogs and the condition in which they were kept were appalling.
"The dogs were in a state of severe emaciation and been deprived of exercise. But I recognise that there is a human angle here. You shared those appalling conditions.
"You did not deliberately set out to inflict cruelty on those dogs, you set out to look after them, but you were unable to do so."
The Birmingham branch of the RSPCA was alerted to the conditions in which the dogs and Mrs Duggan were living in April 2003 when neighbours complained of a pungent smell and constant barking.
One of the society’s vets, Simon Davies, visited the house two months later.
He said: "This was the worst state I have ever seen so many dogs in. It was a very difficult case because all our offers of assistance were refused."
The court heard Mrs Duggan would not sign a form which allowed the RSPCA to find the dogs caring homes. However, all have since been rehomed.
Mr Jellema banned Mrs Duggan from keeping dogs for ten years.
He said: "For a dog lover such as yourself being before a court for cruelty to dogs is a tremendous embarrassment."