Monday, 30 November 2015

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Pensioner who left ponies starving and filthy banned from keeping animals

A pensioner has been banned from keeping animals after a dozen starving and lice-ridden ponies were found on his land in filthy conditions.

Ronald Dawkins photo
Ronald Dawkins

A judge described the physical state of the ponies owned by 75-year-old Ronald Dawkins as “totally shocking”.

The animals – malnourished, and in some cases caked in filth – were later removed from the smallholding where Dawkins lives with his adult son and wife.

In court, it emerged that the RSPCA has so far had to spend £39,000 on housing the ponies and 150 rabbits which were taken from Dawkins’ land last June.

Prosecutor Stephen Marsh told District Judge Gerald Chalk the living conditions of the ponies came to light after a horse welfare officer visited Dawkins’ home on May 24 last year.

The field where most of the horses lived was extremely muddy, and in places littered with rubbish, while the family’s Gilsland house nearby was semi-derelict, said Mr Marsh.

Dawkins later agreed that the ponies needed immediate attention but by June their problems had still not been addressed. On June 22, police and RSPCA officials raided the site and found the ponies living in appalling conditions.

In one trailer, a metal rod protruded from the floor, putting the animals at risk, while in another were found the decomposed remains of a horse. There was a particular concern, said Mr Marsh, for three ponies being housed in a shed.

They were standing in filth, and all had severely overgrown hooves. The hooves of one were so overgrown that it had to walk on its heels, affecting its gait.

Dawkins admitted one count of causing that pony unnecessary suffering, and a further eight counts of failing to ensure the welfare of the ponies in his care.

In his own defence, Dawkins told Judge Chalk that he had been unable to maintain the ponies’ hooves because he could not catch them. He said: “I provided food but I ran out of hay in March and it was particularly wet There was no hay or straw available in the north of England. We had two bad seasons. I was hoping to persevere.”

He said he had been appalled by what he saw when he looked at RSPCA pictures of the ponies.

“I didn’t realise they were in such a poor state,” he said. “I accept they were in a very poor state. I actually needed help but I just couldn’t get any.”

He accepted that he could not afford so many ponies and apologised to the court.

Passing sentence, Judge Chalk told him: “Despite the fact that you have kept animals for a number of years, the state of these animals was totally shocking. Even a non-expert could see that [they] were neglected.”

The judge banned Dawkins from keeping or being involved in caring for any animal for seven years, and fined him £450, with costs of £500, as well as a £45 victim surcharge.

Dawkins, who works as a security guard at a haulage yard, agreed he will pay at a rate of £100 a month.


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