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Suspended prison and ten year ban animal for woman who neglected foal

Suspended prison and ten year ban animal for woman who neglected foal

A woman who failed to get veterinary treatment for a seriously ill foal, has been given a 16-week suspended prison sentence and banned from keeping animals for a decade.   

Cricket, a six to eight-month-old piebald foal was found tethered in a field in Stansfield Road in Castleford, West Yorkshire, on 13 January this year after welfare concerns were reported to the RSPCA. 

The colt was thin, lethargic and wobbly on his feet and there was no food, water or shelter available. He weighed 85 kg (187 pounds) when he should have weighed nearer 150 kg (330 pounds).

Carol Summers, from Castleford, has now been banned from keeping animals for ten years after she admitted causing unnecessary suffering to the foal and failing to meet his needs following a prosecution by the RSPCA.

At a sentencing hearing at Kirklees Magistrates Court on 6 December, she was also handed a 16-week prison sentence, which the bench suspended for 12 months.

The court heard how RSPCA inspector Kris Walker had visited the field and seen multiple tethered horses but one in particular raised concern. 

In a statement to the court he said: "I saw a tethered young colt. He did not look any older than eight to ten-months-old. He was lethargic, wobbly on his feet and very thin with his hips and spine all prominent. The rug he was wearing was too big for him and not on properly. He was scouring badly. There was no food, water or shelter readily available for him and he should not have been tethered due to his young age." 

A vet was called out immediately to examine Cricket. She gave him a body score of just one out of nine and said he was suffering from dehydration, hyperthermia and diarrhoea and needed urgent veterinary care. The police took the foal into possession and arrangements were made to transport him for treatment. He was so thirsty he was drinking from the nearest puddle.

Summers arrived on the scene and was told Cricket had been seized by the police and an investigation would be started. She agreed to sign him over into the care of the RSPCA, telling inspector Walker she'd owned the foal for six weeks. She also told the inspector that a vet had prescribed steroids to treat Cricket, although no record of this was found. 

Cricket was initially taken to a nearby veterinary practice before being transferred to a specialist equine hospital. A vet who gave evidence as part of the case said: "There was no shelter available for the foal and no water was provided. Cricket should have been provided with ad-libitum water, especially given that he was sick with diarrhoea and so had a higher demand for water intake.

"He was too young to be tethered and also not appropriately tethered as he was connected to a fabric headcollar which poses a serious risk of injury. The Defra Code of Practice clearly states horses under the age of two years old shouldn't be tethered."

Another vet who gave evidence said Cricket was emaciated: "At this age, the foal should be approximately 40 to 50% of its adult weight. A cob of 13hh to 14hh will weigh between 300 - 400 kg respectively. This foal should have weighed approximately 150 kg, demonstrating how severely underweight he was."

Despite receiving extensive ongoing treatment and care, Cricket's condition sadly did not improve in the weeks that followed and a vet made the decision that it was in his best interest to put him down to prevent further suffering. 

The court heard that despite Summers telling the RSPCA inspector she had owned Cricket for six weeks, she later disputed this and said it had only been three. However, she agreed she had assumed ownership and had failed to get the foal the care he needed and he had suffered unnecessarily as a result.

In addition to the suspended 16 week custodial sentence -  to run concurrently for each offence - Summers was also ordered to complete 15 RAR days and pay costs of £400 and a victim surcharge of £154. She will not be able to appeal her ban for the next five years. 

Magistrates said Cricket's basic needs had not been met and there was a failure by the defendant in all aspects of horse ownership. In mitigation they heard Summers had various caring responsibilities and accepted she should never have become involved in looking after the foal.

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