|Rescued dogs [Photo:BBC]|
Thirty dogs have been removed from a house in County Tyrone, after their elderly owner finally admitted she could not cope.
Twenty-nine Chihuahuas and a Rottweiler had been roaming freely at the woman's home near Fivemiletown, when a shelter in Omagh was contacted about the situation.
The woman, who is in her 80s, had gathered the animals over the years. While she kept them well-fed and sheltered, they never left the house or met other people. They also never received any veterinary care.
"Quite a lot had overgrown nails because they've never been outside," said Lynda Hill, founder of Grovehill Animal Shelter which rescued the dogs.
"Many of them have dreadful teeth and none of them are neutered. Some of their coats are a hairy, rotten mess.
"Some of the dogs that had been ill, she wouldn't have realised until she would have found them dead in the house. She couldn't possibly have known they were ill when she'd more than 30 dogs living with her.
"She knew herself it was out of control, she knew it was unacceptable,"
Six of the dogs who needed urgent medical care have been handed over to the Dogs Trust in Glasgow.
Twenty-four are being cared for at the Grovehill shelter near Omagh, which is facing a vet's bill of about Â£4,000 to get the dogs fit and healthy again.
"This is such a small sanctuary, though we work to our absolute limit - we re-home up to 1,000 animals a year, which is quite huge for the resources we have," said Lynda.
"We normally handle 30 dogs at a time. Now we've all of a sudden doubled our numbers.
"We're always fire-fighting with money. That's why this leaves us at a point of breaking almost."