Woman who kept array of animals in filthy conditions allowed to keep a new dog due to her mental health

Michelle Pereira appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.
Michelle Pereira appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

A woman who kept an array of animals in filthy conditions has been allowed to keep a new dog - because it would be detrimental to her mental health to lose the pet.

Magistrates in South Tyneside heard Michelle Pereira, 45, was found living in ‘squalor’ in her Jarrow home with a ‘menagerie’ of animals - including a parrot, a fat-tailed gerbil, four guineapigs, a pygmy hedgehog, a hamster, a ginger cat and four dogs.

She is very reliant on the support she relates to having a dog in her care in terms of coping with her bereavement

Janice Hall, defending

Pereira - who suffers from anxiety - waited outside the court building with her new dog Sam and entered guilty pleas to eight out of 10 charges through her solicitor.

Judith Curry, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said police contacted the animal charity after visiting the home, in Ravensworth Terrace, Jarrow, following the death of Pereira’s mother in February.

Ms Curry said: “Police had concerns for a number of animals. RSPCA inspector Terri Fannon attended and realised the animals had to be removed. The house was extremely dirty and there was a strong smell of urine and faeces.

“Moving through the house proved difficult due to the number of boxes and other items.

“In her opinion it was filthy and squalid and not a suitable environment for animals to be kept in. It was a menagerie of animals in there.”

A vet examined the animals and found one if the dogs had a heart and lung problem and a urinary tract infection.

Pereira was interviewed and said she could not see anything wrong with the conditions the animals were being kept in.

Ms Curry added: “This is a lady who has been unwell. She is unable to look after herself, let alone these animals.

“She has since acquired another dog and is waiting outside court with it.”

Ms Curry said the sentence could be deferred to a later date, adding: “If she can prove she can look after this dog, then we can set the disqualification for all animals apart from this one dog, so that she wouldn’t feel the need to take in others.”

Pereira admitted seven counts of failing to ensure a suitable living environment related to the animals and one of failing to protect the four guineapigs from pain, injury, suffering and disease.

Janice Hall, defending, said: “All the animals seized in February have now been signed over to the RSPCA. Miss Pereira was already a vulnerable woman who lived alone with her mother who became terminally ill and that is something that she did not cope with.

“During the period of her mother’s severe illness - a period of two weeks to February 21 - the animals’ needs were not met.

Miss Hall asked for the sentence to be deferred.

She added: “She is very reliant on the support she relates to having a dog in her care in terms of coping with her bereavement. There are no concerns at the moment for that dog.

The court deferred the sentence to March 27, on the condition that Sam be made available for inspection and that the RSPCA be allowed unannounced access to the house.