A MAN dubbed “Dr Dolittle” by his neighbours is facing a ban from owning pets after police recovered 39 animals from his cramped one-bedroom flat.
Maqsood Asghar, 40, was found with a menagerie of creatures at his home in Kirk Street, Leith, which was said to reek of animal urine and faeces.
The list of pets – many kept in small cages stacked on top of one another – included two dogs, one cat, two terrapins, four rabbits, four guinea pigs, two chinchillas, two doves, seven quail, 12 rats, one mouse and two gerbils.
One neighbour said: “There was always a really bad smell coming from the house whenever you walked past. I know he kept quite a few animals in there before.”
Another said: “He seemed to spend a lot of time in his flat with those animals. You might say he was a bit of a Dr Dolittle.”
At Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Asghar’s solicitor, Nigel Bruce, said his client had “a compulsive disorder of collecting things”.
The animal hoarder pleaded guilty to a charge under the Animal Health and Welfare Act of failing to provide suitable diet, nutrition and water to the pets. It is understood he could be fined or issued with a banning order from owning animals for a fixed period, or life.
Officers from the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) had responded immediately to a police request asking them to visit Mr Asghar’s flat in June last year.
The team arrived at 10pm on June 15 and had been “shocked” to find more than 30 caged animals piled on top of each other, all with limited access to food and water.
Fiscal depute Tom Crosby told Sheriff Neil Mackinnon that police had attended the flat on an unrelated matter before calling in officers from the animal welfare charity.
When the SSPCA officers arrived, they were immediately aware of two large dogs and Asghar told them there were other animals living in the house.
Mr Crosby said the animals were in cages stacked on top of one another and there was a very strong smell of urine and faeces. The decision was made to remove the animals from the flat, he said, and Asghar agreed to transfer their ownership to the SSPCA.
Deferring sentence for reports, Sheriff Mackinnon said he wanted to know about the current health of the animals.
Speaking about the haul of animals, Inspector Jenni Surgeon, of the SSPCA, said: “We are very pleased Mr Asghar has admitted this offence.
“These animals were forced to live in appalling conditions and the majority did not have any access to food or water.
“It is now up to the court to decide on an appropriate punishment.”