A woman has been banned from owning horses and ponies after allowing animals to become emaciated and develop parasites and worm infestations.
Mary Smith, 38, of Meadow Street, Great Harwood, was found guilty after a trial at Blackburn Magistrates Court of 28 counts of causing unnecessary suffering to animals and failing to provide proper or necessary care or treatment under the Animal Welfare Act.
The incident happened over a six-month period in 2014 and the RSPCA said many of the horses and ponies involved were suffering from parasites, emaciation and had overgrown hooves, rain scald, ring worm and sun burn.
She was given a community order with a 14-week curfew requirement and banned from owning, keeping or being involved in the care of horses and ponies for two years.
Chris Wyatt, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said the horses were in four different locations including Edge End Lane, Meadow Street and Allan Ramsbottom Way in Great Harwood. Officers from the RSPCA sent several warning notices to Smith, however the court heard that she ‘failed to adequately respond’.
Simon Farnsworth, defending, said Smith did not ‘wilfully’ mistreat the animals as it is ‘contrary to her beliefs’ and added the incident has caused a ‘great deal of embarrassment and anxiety’.
He told the court that her husband and owner of the horses and ponies was ‘unexpectedly’ jailed for a period of time and she was left with the responsibility of looking after them, their businesses and children. He said: “I think it just became too much for her. Her efforts to try and remedy the problem with the horses was extensive. She had contact on a daily basis from the RSPCA.”
Mr Farnsworth said she did not tell her husband while in prison about the situation as she didn’t want to cause him ‘more distress’ and told the court how ‘he feels he is responsible for leaving her in that position’.
Mr Farnsworth said it was a ‘blip’, she has no similar convictions and prohibiting her from having any contact or care with animals would be ‘extremely difficult’.
District Judge James Clarke said the ‘vast majority’ of issues relate to her efforts to ‘adequately’ respond to the RSPCA’s intervention and a large number of horses had ‘varying degrees of debilitation and suffering’. He said she also relied of staff members who were ‘not up to the task’.