ROBERTA Mitchell had been vilified by people after all the publicity that surrounded her 17 convictions for cruelty in the Magistrates Court her barrister Jonathan Rich told Mold Crown Court.
She was someone who had always enjoyed a good relationship with the RSPCA.
They had been around to see her on occasions in the past, they visited her in November 2002 when there were certain difficulties because her then husband who helped her care for the animals was dying, and they said that they would return in six weeks, he said.
But they returned to her home after just two weeks in what was a major operation, which her legal team claimed was an illegal search and seizure operation.
That was disputed by the RSPCA, the court heard, but Mr Rich claimed they had no warrant to enter her premises, and had no consent.
They may have been invited in by Mrs Mitchell but that was to see if they could improve the care of the animals, not to seize them.
A large number of animals, in the region of 34, had been seized, and charges had been brought in respect of 17 of them.
She accepted that in respect of two horses, which she had taken in when they were old, that they did not receive the highest standard of care.
The vet had seen them five months earlier, a decision had been taken to put them down and holes dug to bury them, but it was a delicate balancing exercise which she accepted that in her circumstances at that time she had got wrong.
It was the first time she had ever been in court, she had spent several days in the magistrates court and now four days in the crown court.
In a very large number of ways, her appeal had now been successful.
But she had been under a lot of strain, not least because of the publicity her case had created because animal welfare issues were always emotional matters.
She had a large number of friends in the animal welfare community and while she had been supported by some, others had ostracised her.
His client was someone well-known for many years as someone who could look after animals at times of distress and the two horses had been taken on by her in the twilight of their lives. Mr Rich stressed the overgrown hooves had not caused the animals to be lame.
At the time she believed she had been coping but to be fair she had the care of her dying husband and now accepted she may not have been coping as well as she should have been.
'It is difficult to imagine a sadder time than a period when she knew she was going to lose her life-long partner,' Mr Rich said.
There was never any suggestion Mrs Mitchell could not afford to look after her animals.
'She is someone who would go hungry herself before her dogs,' he said.
He stressed there had been a large number of other animals at the property which had not been the subject of any complaint.