Twelve dogs among animals found in derelict flat

Twelve dogs were among a group of animals saved from an abandoned council flat.

A rabbit and a lizard were also rescued from the property in an operation led by Oxford City Council.

Neighbours told the council about the trapped animals and alerted them to the smell that was coming from the building in Headington.

The RSPCA safely removed all the animals for health checks and rehoming. A police investigation is under way.

It is not clear why the animals were abandoned.

The council said: "The flat was officially occupied, but the tenant had moved out to turn it into a makeshift kennel."

Neighbours said someone visited once a week to put down dry food but the animals did not have access to the outside.

The council was able to obtain a warrant in order to gain access to the premises and the dogs were scanned for chips, in case any were lost or stolen.

'Appalling conditions'

The animals will be looked after by the RSPCA until new homes can be found for them or they can be returned to their owners.

Councillor Shaista Aziz said: "These animals were being held in appalling conditions and severely neglected.

"This was more than just anti-social behaviour, it was inhumane, and I'd like to thank everyone involved in the rescue especially residents who first raised concerns."

The council's housing team will reclaim the flat, which needs deep cleaning before it returns to the housing list.

Thames Valley Police has opened a criminal investigation for mistreatment of animals.