A pensioner who ill-treated 191 dogs has been jailed for more than two years after keeping them in 'pitiful' conditions, writes Ted Davenport.

Diana Curtis, 66, had already been banned from keeping animals in December 2023 after she was convicted of ill-treating horses, ducks and chickens.

She was jailed then for 16 weeks which was suspended for 12 months and told to pay £10,000 costs for those offences.

But she was back in court for new offences involving the huge number of dogs – most of which had to be boarded at vast expense to the RSPCA.

She moved 99 dogs to a remote field near Chittlehamholt in north Devon but a local farmer tipped off police because of the noise of the barking animals.

There was no water or electricity supply in the field and the scene was described as chaotic and Curtis turned up in a lorry with another 92 dogs in it, transported from kennels in Chumleigh Cross.

RSPCA officers and police found the dogs in crates, cages and crammed in the back of a lorry in a remote field in Devon.

Exeter Crown Court heard that in that lorry dogs were in pain and literally on top of each other.

Two dogs had to be put down because of their poor condition and others had infections, scars including missing ears after fighting each other.

Prosecutor Hazel Stevens said dogs and puppies were in crates and disturbingly without water and when a bucket of water was given to them, a dozen dogs were on top of each other trying to get a drink.

They found six lactating bitches and 19 puppies in crates stacked up with no access to water.

Defence barrister Nigel Wraith told Exeter Crown Court that Curtis was 'clearly overwhelmed' by the number of dogs which were costing her up to £300 a week in dog food – 'more money than she spent on herself'.

He said Curtis was a 'very isolated lonely lady' who had a strong affection for these animals and did not deliberately harm them.

Curtis, of Peters Marland, Devon, admitted seven counts of causing unnecessary suffering and was jailed for a total of 25 months and banned from keeping animals for life.

Judge James Adkin said it was prolonged cruelty and Curtis moved the animals to a different location to avoid detection.

He said:"You put yourself and your own feelings before the animals causing them considerable suffering."

He said pictures of the animals showed their 'truly pitiful condition'.