Marilyn Read convicted of 29 offences under Animal Welfare Act
Following an initial welfare concern about a group of ponies kept on land near a railway line, World Horse Welfare Field Officer, Jacko Jackson and RSPCA Inspector, Jason Finch investigated Ms Read’s premises where they found over 30 miniature horses in a variety of sheds, barns and fields – many living up to two feet deep in their own faeces. In addition to the unsuitable environment, most of the ponies were underweight and many had badly overgrown feet, dental problems, worm burdens and eye infections.
Stallions and mares were housed next to each other with only a small fence to separate them, causing unnecessary stress and fighting between the herd, with expert witness for the prosecution vet Peter Green describing the property as ‘massively overstocked’ with ponies and lacking in adequate grazing or space for them to exercise. Dogs were kept in small cages without fresh water or food and were described as ‘depressed’ by another vet, Kerstin Politz.
Ms Read was convicted of 29 offences under Section 4 and Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act and has been given a six-year ban from keeping horses and dogs, with a three month suspension to enable her to rehome the animals currently in her care. She was also ordered to pay £2,500 in costs which will be paid at a monthly cost of £50. This prosecution is Ms Read’s third under the Animal Welfare Act having been previously convicted in 2007 and 2004 respectively.
World Horse Welfare Field Officer, Jacko Jackson said:
“We are pleased that this case has now come to a resolution but at the same time disappointed that the sentencing was not stronger given this was Ms Read’s third conviction.
“Ponies are simply not designed to live in such close confinement and a plot of 5-6 acres is nowhere near sufficient to sustain upwards of 30 ponies, regardless of their size. Ms Read was offered a range of help and support from World Horse Welfare, the RSPCA and other charities but was unwilling to accept the fact she was unable to cope with the numbers of animals in her possession. No one person could possibly look after more than 70 animals (horses and dogs) and ensure they all received the appropriate levels of care, something which was clearly demonstrated in the numerous health problems suffered by both the horses and dogs on Ms Read’s property.
“Now that the case has concluded, the ponies can undergo intensive rehabilitation, a process which has had to be put on hold during the two years this prosecution has been ongoing. Many people don’t realise that any horses or ponies in our farms as part of a prosecution case can only be given basic care and stallions cannot be gelded which means they must be individually housed instead of living in herds or groups as our other horses do. This understandably places a huge strain on our resources, so it’s positive that the team at our Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre can now begin work with these ponies.”