Parents handed pet ban after midwife finds dogs and cats 'all over' baby's home
A family court judge has imposed a pet ban on a couple who allowed five dogs and at least five cats to share a home with six children, including a week-old baby.
Judge Barbara Cameron said the couple will be forbidden from having a dog, puppy, cat or kitten in their home until early 2019.
The judge heard how a midwife had found the couple's home to be in an "appalling state" when checking on the newborn child.
She said the children had been temporarily moved to new homes pending decisions on their long-term futures.
The judge said she had subsequently decided that four children, including the baby, would return to the couple's care and two would live with a relative.
She said the couple would get a "tight structure of support" from social services staff.
Social services bosses said they had planned for a social worker to make regular visits to help get children ready for nursery and school.
Detail of the case emerged in a ruling by the judge, who analysed evidence at a private family court hearing in Chatham, Kent, last year.
The judge has not identified the family but said social services bosses at Kent County Council had asked her to make decisions about the futures of the children.
She said a midwife had visited seven days after the baby was born.
"The conditions were utterly squalid with no hygienic surfaces and shocked all who saw them," said Judge Cameron in her ruling.
"There were dogs both in the garden and elsewhere - about five in all, I believe - and there were cats and kittens, certainly five or six kittens, looking at the photographs that I have seen, and they again were all over the place.
"One or two - in fact it may be three different dogs, looking at their faces - were photographed at various times in the upstairs bedrooms and dog feeding and water bowls were found in the children's bedrooms.
"Faeces and urine were all over the place.
"It was plainly a shocking environment for the parents to believe was acceptable for their children of any age, including a newborn."