FULL details of the animal cruelty allegations facing a 30-year-old wildlife rescue centre have been released.

Veronica Mepham, 70, and husband Reinhard, 64, run the Rescuers Wildlife Sanctuary, in Watlington Road, Benfleet.

The couple have been summonsed to court by the RSPCA, each facing identical counts of cruelty against 18 animals.

They are accused of failing to provide veterinary care and later of failing to put down a Canada goose, a collared dove, a magpie and a jackdaw.

The Mephams are also accused of failing to properly treat or get veterinary care for a dove, a duck, a hen, a cockerel, a goat, a rabbit and four guinea pigs.

There are four other offences, including keeping a fox and fox cub in unsuitable conditions, failing to prevent a duck from receiving an injury, and failing to give a wood pigeon adequate food and veterinary care.

The alleged offences related to inspections of the wildlife sanctuary by RSPCA officers between July 5 and August 5 this year.

The hen and cockerel were said to be suffering from a scaly leg condition, while the guinea pigs were said to not have been treated for a skin disease.

According to the summons the rabbit was not treated for an eye condition, the goat for lameness, the duck had an injured eye and the dove a poor body condition.

The couple will appear at Southend Magistrates’ Court on November 22.

A statement released on the sanctuary’s website said: “We vehemently deny and refute allegations made.”

It added the sanctuary was not closed and would continue fundraising, however, it is not taking in any more sick animals.