Man found guilty after donkeys were left to suffer

A man who failed to trim his donkeys’ overgrown hooves, leading three of them to suffer in pain, has been fined by magistrates.


James Derek Pickford from Staffordshire was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to three donkeys and failing to meet the needs of seven donkeys following a trial at North Staffordshire Justice Centre last week.

The court heard that the RSPCA had been in contact with Pickford before, and had given advice and warning notices on a number of occasions regarding his donkeys’ overgrown hooves, but the problem continued.

Inspector Charlotte Melvin said: “Their hooves were X-rayed and these X-rays showed that three of the donkeys were suffering from a great deal of pain, as their pedal bone had rotated as a result. This would have made them very uncomfortable and led to suffering.

“Equines require a lot of specialist care and it's important to remember that people who have animals have a responsibility to look after them properly, and ensure that they receive the proper veterinary treatment and care when they need it.”

Magistrates ordered Pickford to pay £2,250 in costs, a £240 fine and a £30 victim surcharge.

The donkeys are now in the care of the Donkey Sanctuary.

Hannah Bryer, senior welfare adviser at the Donkey Sanctuary, said: “Owning donkeys can be a hugely rewarding experience and a wonderful privilege, however they require caring and compassionate management to ensure they lead healthy and enriched lives.

“The seven donkeys in this case had significantly overgrown and imbalanced hooves. These changes caused undue stresses and strains on the joints and soft tissues of the limb and three of the donkeys were suffering chronic pain as a result.


"This suffering could have been easily avoided with proper and routine farrier care. Despite being easy to remedy, lack of appropriate hoof care remains one of the most common welfare issues faced by donkeys in Great Britain today.

“When the donkeys came into our care last May, we found out that five of them were in foal. Since then we have worked closely with a vet and farrier to ensure they were ready to welcome five healthy foals into the world.

“We are grateful to the RSPCA, World Horse Welfare, Staffordshire Police, and North Staffordshire Council for their efforts in this case and are pleased to able to provide these donkeys with a safe and secure future.”

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