A dealer who allowed equines to live in squalid conditions has been banned from keeping horses indefinitely.

Jackie Johnson, 54, of Harriseahead, appeared before North Staffordshire Magistrates’ Court on 22 March. She was charged under section nine and section four of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, for animal cruelty and failing to provide a duty of care to animals under her control.

This followed an investigation by Staffordshire County Council’s animal health team, along with officers from Staffordshire Police, World Horse Welfare, the Donkey Sanctuary and the RSPCA.

Jackie Johnson court case

“It is clear that the business being operated at this farm had serious issues, and resulted in serious consequences for the horses, donkeys and ponies that were being kept there,” said Cllr Gill Heath, communities leader at Staffordshire County Council, following the hearing.

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On visits to the farm, officers found horses kept in poor condition in dirty stables with no dry area to lie down. Those kept outside were wet and dirty with no shelter.

One pony was found collapsed in a field, covered with rugs and tarpaulin. Following examination by a vet, the decision was made to put him down.

A second pony was found on the site with injuries and also had to be euthanised.

Further visits were made to the farm and another four horses were taken away and several more put down due to the condition they were in.

In her defence, it is understood Johnson had co-operated with officers, pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and had had no previous issues.

She is also the main carer for her mother, who has dementia, and of two others with special needs. One of her friends recently died of cancer and Johnson is now the supporter of her three grown-up children.

Matters started to go downhill from mid-2015 and she was struggling to cope financially.

Johnson, who admitted the charges, was given a 12-week suspended sentence for each offence and ordered to pay almost £3,500, plus a further £80 victim surcharge. She has also been banned from having any further involvement with horses, donkeys or ponies indefinitely.

“By working with voluntary organisations for animal welfare, we were able to ensure the safety of the remaining animals, and make sure the horse dealer was brought to justice,” added Cllr Heath.

“We will also seek to prosecute people who flout the law and don’t adhere to regulations.”

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