Four people from Sevenoaks have been banned from keeping horses after they kept sick animals in the same field as a horse's rotting dead body and poisonous ragwort.
Harry Dunn, Tommy Tucker Dunn, Matthew Dunn and Christine Chambers were found guilty of offences under the Animal Welfare Act and sentenced at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court following a two-day trial.
The four were found guilty of multiple offences relating to seven horses kept at a location on South Ash Road in Sevenoaks - a Shetland pony and her foal who were very thin and riddled with worms, a thin skewbald pony who was was also suffering from a worm burden, two foals who were suffering from an untreated respiratory condition, a very thin mare and a colt who had very poor hooves. All of the horses were kept in a field that had a high amount of a poisonous plant known as ragwort.
Harry Dunn of South Ash Road in Sevenoaks, was found guilty of two offences of causing unnecessary suffering and one offence of keeping animals in an unsuitable environment. He was banned from keeping horses for one year and ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge, £400 costs and £550 fine.
His son Matthew Dunn also of South Ash Road in Sevenoaks, was also found guilty of two offences of causing unnecessary suffering and two section 9 offences relating to the unsuitable environment the horses were kept in. He was banned from keeping horses for two years and ordered to pay a £40 victim surcharge, £400 costs and £400 fine.
Harry Dunn’s nephew, Tommy Tucker Dunn, again of South Ash Road in Sevenoaks, was found guilty of one offence of causing unnecessary suffering and one sections 9 offence. He was banned from keeping horses for two years and ordered to pay a £40 victim surcharge, £400 costs and £400 fine.
Family friend Christine Chambers of Porchester Close, Hartley was found guilty of one offence of causing unnecessary suffering and two welfare offences related to the conditions the horses were kept in. She was banned from keeping horses for two years and ordered to pay a £40 victim surcharge, £400 costs and £400 fine.
RSPCA inspector Deborah Pert said: “It’s shocking to think that between the Dunn family and Chambers, none of them provided adequate care for their horses. There were a lot of horses being kept at the site, and I was shocked at the conditions not only of the field which was atrocious, but the horses themselves, they were in a terrible state. I could see the carcass of a dead horse rotting in one part of the field and there was poisonous ragwort growing all over the place. It was a completely unacceptable way to keep horses.”
The horses were taken by police in February 2016, following several months of multi-agency welfare work from the RSPCA, British Horse Society (BHS), Redwings Horse Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare.
Teams from Kent County Council and Kent Police were also on hand to investigate the welfare of the horses in the area, and a further 29 horses were removed as no owners claimed them and there were serious welfare concerns for them. These horses were taken in by the RSPCA, with four transferred to World Horse Welfare for care.
World Horse Welfare Glenda Spooner Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre, Centre Manager, Claire Phillips said: “When the four ponies came into our care, it was clear that none of them had been receiving the care they needed by their previous owners. All of the ponies were underweight, covered in muck and filth, and suffering from overgrown feet.
Some were unhandled and nervous of human contact, but over time they've learned to trust the grooms caring for them and are unrecognisable from the quiet, lethargic ponies who arrived. We're delighted that Jaffa has already found a loving home where he is enjoying his role as a loyal companion, Echo recently joined our rehoming scheme and is looking for his ideal home, while Cocoa is having a fantastic time with the other youngsters at the farm as she continues her rehabilitation.
“Clippy has become something of a celebrity thanks to his role as the inspiration behind World Horse Welfare’s garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year. The garden tells his story of rescue from a dank, dilapidated stable through his rehabilitation and recovery to become the stunning, plucky little pony he is today. We are so glad to see all of the four ponies putting their difficult past behind them and facing a bright future.”
RSPCA inspector Pert added: “This was a great example of successful multi-agency working, and I’m really grateful to the BHS, Redwings and World Horse Welfare along with Kent Police and Kent County Council for their assistance in this case.
We are experiencing a very serious spate of horse welfare cases in Kent at the moment, and this case sends out a clear message that between all the organisations involved, we are doing everything we can to tackle this crisis.”
All four defendants have been ordered to relinquish ownership of all their horses in line with their disqualification orders.
If you think you could adopt or foster a horse, visit www.rspca.org.uk/findapet to find out more