A vet told a court he could smell "rotting decaying carcasses" when he was called to the home of a dog breeder.

Tony Sims, 31, fed raw meat and bones to a pack of 22 dogs he kept in unventilated rooms in near darkness and forced to sleep in their own excrement.

Police officers, animal inspectors and a vet found rabbit carcasses scattered throughout the house which Sims had used as food because he considered it "natural".

Veterinary surgeon Julian Peters told Hastings Magistrates Court that Sims' conduct had been "totally inadequate and inappropriate".

Sims, of London Road, Hailsham, bred boxers and rottweilers from his home. He now faces nine separate charges of animal cruelty relating to 16 puppies and six bitches.

Mr Peters attended Sims' house with RSPCA inspectors and police officers on April 25 last year.

He said: "I could smell rotting decaying carcasses. It's something one gets used to in a knackers yard, and I thought "something died here"."

When he entered the house, Mr Peters found the dogs kept in darkened rooms, possibly to calm them, and an overpowering stench of ammonia emanating from sodden floors and carpets.

He said: "My nose was running and eyes watering. I am 6ft-something and I could smell it. The dogs down at carpet level would get a much stronger smell.

"We smell as if we are watching black and white TV. Dogs smell as if watching colour TV, widescreen with all the bells and whistles."

Mr Peters also criticised the way Sims had removed the puppies' tails, leaving them in agony with bone protruding from raw flesh.

He said: "Putting cable ties on is a totally inappropriate way to dock puppies. I find that a barbaric way of doing it.

"You are getting constriction of some of the blood vessels but you are getting sufficient supply to keep the tail partially alive."

New legislation, imposed at the start of April last year, means only certified working dogs may be docked, except medical exceptions. It has been illegal for lay people to dock dogs' tails since 1993.

Mr Peters was forced to remove the eye of one puppy, which he said could have been saved had Sims acted differently.

The rottweiler puppy had been banished to a separate locked room with only a dead rabbit for company, a mincing machine, and a freezer full of rabbit carcasses, the court heard.

Mr Peters said the cornea had been punctured but criticised Sims, who claimed to have bathed the eye in salt water.

He said: "I couldn't see any evidence that it had any treatment. Bathing in salt water would be totally inadequate. If the solution was too strong it could have a detrimental effect on the eye.

"If this eye had been treated adequately at the beginning of the problem it would have been possible to treat."

Sims had earlier told the court he never took any of his dogs to the vet because they "mess around with the dogs".

Sims, who is representing himself in court, denies all the charges against him. The trial continues.