A man from Leeds has been disqualified from keeping animals for life after being convicted of three offences against two donkeys in his care.

James Garner Smith was sentenced at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court last week and at a previous hearing, he was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to two donkeys being kept at a field near Harrogate by failing to provide adequate hoof care and proper and necessary lice treatment.

He also failed to meet their needs by not supplying them with clean drinking water.

RSPCA inspector Claire Mitchell said: “It should have been obvious that these donkeys were suffering.

“All four hooves on both of the donkeys were very overgrown and they were finding it difficult to walk as a result.

“They had a lice infestation and there was no drinkable water available to them.”

A member of the public contacted The Donkey Sanctuary, who visited the pair and got in touch with the RSPCA with their concerns.

Rita and Sue had overgrown hooves and lice

Notices were left at the field where the donkeys were living, but the donkey’s circumstances remained unchanged so they were seized by police on veterinary advice in June last year.

The donkeys – called Rita and Sue – have been looked after by The Donkey Sanctuary pending the outcome of the case.

As well as the lifetime disqualification, Smith was deprived of the donkeys, who will now pass into The Donkey Sanctuary’s ownership.

He was also sentenced to a four-month community order in the form of a curfew from 7pm till 7am and ordered to pay costs of £750 plus an £85 victim surcharge.

Hannah Bryer, head of welfare at The Donkey Sanctuary, said: “Happily with the support of vets, farriers and grooms, both donkeys have made a full recovery. One of the donkeys was very shy and nervous of people when she first came to us but her grooms have been working hard to improve her confidence and her trust in humans is slowly growing.

“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. Sadly, 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.

“We are grateful to the combined efforts of the RSPCA, North Yorkshire Police and all involved in investigating this case. The disqualification order imposed by the court serves to protect the welfare of donkeys in the future and thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we are pleased to provide both donkeys with a safe and secure future.”

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