A WOMAN who kept 200 snakes in her York home has been handed a 12 month community sentence for nine animal neglect offences.
Pauline Wallace, 64, had the snakes in specialist tanks, plastic tubs and stacking boxes all over her house on Osbaldwick Lane in conditions described as horrendous when they were discovered by RSPCA inspectors in August 2012.
In November Wallace pleaded guilty to seven charges of causing unnecessary suffering to three of the snakes and two similar charges about a border collie called Alfie, and was sentenced at York Magistrate’s Court today.
RSPCA solicitor Phil Browne said Wallace had more than 186 live snakes in the house. Around 66 were kept in the garage , but 114 lived in Wallace’s bedroom and some were infested with mites.
Inspectors first visited the house in early Augst 2012 to check on reports about a border collie in the home, and revisited three times in the following weeks taking first only six snakes and then more than 80 when the realised Wallace had not followed the vet’s instructions and improved her care of the animals.
Many of the snakes since had to be put down, or died of illness the RSPCA vets blamed on the unhygeinic conditions they had been kept in.
The court saw video of a vet inspecting the snakes and their containers - some stinking of urine and fecal matter.
Inspectors also found 20 dead snakes in a freezer.
“Mrs Wallace said those were her favourites, and she could not bear to part with them, “ Mr Browne added.
The dog, which belonged to Wallace’s mother, was found to have flea allergic dermatitis and had scratched much of hair from the back of its body.
Wallace’s defence solicitor David Ward said his client begged the court not to stop her keeping snakes because “they are her life”.
Sentencing Wallace the magistrates gave her a 12 month community order with supervision, ordered the dog and 60 of the remaining snakes be left with the RSPCA to be rehomed.
They also banned Wallace from keeping reptiles for one year and gave her three weeks to find new homes for her 14 remaining snakes.
RSCPA inspector Heidi Cleaver lead the investigation, and speaking outside court said she was delighted with the outcome of the case.
“The conditions in the house were horrendous.
“The boxes were stacked floor to ceiling. I have never seen anything like it, it was quite overwhelming.
“I don’t understand how anyone who loves animals can keep them in those conditions.”
Ten other charges were dropped after the November hearing