Three members of the same family have been barred from keeping horses for 10 years after repeatedly ignoring advice from British welfare charities.
The two men and a woman received the ban and will be forced to pay thousands of pounds in costs after repeatedly ignoring advice from the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare inspectors who had serious concerns for the welfare of the family’s ponies.
At the Sevenoaks Magistrates Court in Kent, Tommy Dunn Senior and Tommy Dunn Junior of Plot 6, Barnfield Park, Ash, Kent were sentenced to pay £5000 in costs each and Shirley Dunn was ordered to pay £500 in costs after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering and failing in their duty of care under the Animal Welfare Act.
A 20-week curfew was also placed on Dunn Sr, and Dunn Jr was given 200 hours of community service. Shirley Dunn received a conditional discharge for two years.
When World Horse Welfare field officer Claire Gordon and RSPCA inspector Andrew Kirby visited the site in Kent last year they had concerns for several ponies they saw there.
Advice was given on this and a further visit to ensure their care.
On finding the advice had been ignored, a warrant was obtained and the inspectors returned with a veterinarian and police officers.
When they were granted access to a dark barn they discovered eight native-bred ponies that had been kept separate from the rest of the horses they had been dealing with on previous visits.
The ponies were found dehydrated and starving, covered in lice and riddled with red worms.
Many were tethered to the walls so tightly they could not lie down, World Horse Welfare said. The barn was overcrowded, unventilated, with no access to food or water.
The vet immediately determined they were suffering and the horses were removed to safety under the Animal Welfare Act.
The ponies are now thriving and undergoing rehabilitation at World Horse Welfare’s centres.
The charity said it hoped in the future they would be found loving new homes through its rehoming scheme.
“This is a good result for the horses,” Gordon said.
“Had the owners in this case listened to the advice given by World Horse Welfare and the RSPCA on previous visits, these horses would not be in this condition and the RSPCA would not have had to prosecute.
“Prosecution is always a last resort as we prefer to work with horse owners to improve welfare, but in this case the owners did not listen to our repeated advice, which was met with hostility and sometimes aggression. Thankfully, the horses are now safe and doing well.”