A man has been given a lifetime ban from owning animals after neglecting a number of donkeys.

James Steele, 46, from Glenavy (formerly from Crumlin) was found guilty of two charges under the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.

Steele pleaded guilty to the offences and was ordered to pay costs of £1,225.98. He also received a six months suspended sentence.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council’s animal welfare service received a complaint on 26 June, 2015 referring to donkeys in fields in the Dundrod, Stoneyford area of Co. Antrim.

Officers found 11 donkeys, nine of which had severely overgrown hooves making it difficult for them to walk.

A vet stated that the condition of nine of the 11 donkeys was so poor that they should be put down.

The two remaining donkeys were seized on the vet’s advice.

Steele was found to be the owner of six of the donkeys and was subsequently convicted.

Tinsel and Jingles

The Donkey Sanctuary is now caring for the two remaining donkeys, since named Tinsel and Jingles (pictured, top).

“We welcome the ban which we feel properly reflects the severity of the suffering inflicted on these animals,” said Jane Bruce of the Donkey Sanctuary.

“We are grateful to the council animal welfare service for contacting us to help rescue the two surviving animals and give them a fresh chance at life. The donkeys are now guaranteed a lifetime of care with The Donkey Sanctuary.”


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Since coming to the sanctuary, Tinsel and Jingles have undergone several veterinary treatments to address their neglected condition.

“This is a very sad case but we are very pleased that these lovely donkeys are now safe in our care,” added The Donkey Sanctuary’s adviser.

“We hope that when or if they recover to full health that they will be suitable to join our re-homing scheme and become part of someone’s loving family – which would be a wholly unique experience for these animals.”