The RSPCA and Dartmoor Pony Society have reassured supporters of the breed that the Pumphill bloodline will not be lost after their breeder was banned from keeping animals.

Champion Dartmoor pony breeder and judge David Hinde told H&H he fears for the future of the Pumphill herd after he was banned for 12 years last week (18 March).

Mr Hinde, 50, breached a previous equine ban, caused unnecessary suffering to a pony, “Fred”, and two cats, and failed to meet the needs of 52 cats, a court ruled. He also received a 20-month suspended prison sentence. His parents Raymond and Cynthia were banned from keeping all animals, except dogs, for five years.

But Mr Hinde says the family’s famous bloodline is being put at risk.

He claims that if the RSPCA remove the ponies they will not be available for breeding and a gene pool of a rare breed will be lost.

The RSPCA told H&H that the family has 21 days [from sentencing] to rehome the ponies before they pass into RSPCA care.

“If the ponies do come to us, it is the RSPCA’s standard position that animals rehomed from us aren’t bred from because of overpopulation, but these decisions are dealt with on a case-by-case basis and we would work with the relevant breed societies to address any concerns,” an RSPCA spokesman said.

Mr Hinde added: “Especially in light of Dartmoors being recategorised as ‘at risk’ on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust Watchlist earlier this year, I’m very concerned about the bloodline.

“I’m starting a petition for support and to stop this happening because, despite numerous requests, the RSPCA won’t release the herd’s passports, so I can’t rehome them. I just want to safeguard the future of the breed.”

However, the RSPCA spokesman said the passports were being held as evidence in case it is need for any appeal.

“We will of course release any of the passports to the new owner, should he wish to rehome or sell any pony — he just needs contact us.

“The passports are the property of the issuing authority, ie the breed societies in this case who we have been in contact with, and agreed that we will release any of them if their ownership is being transferred.”

The Dartmoor Pony Society told H&H it has been working with working with the RSPCA since 2010 and any decisions will be discussed with them.

“In the event that the ponies have to go into the RSPCA’s care after the 21 days dispersal period granted to rehome the animals, the Society has had assurances that although the RSPCA’s standard position is that animals rehomed are not bred from because of overpopulation, any decision is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and they would work with the Dartmoor Pony Society to address any concerns regarding the future of the breed.”

Mr Hinde told H&H he is appealing the ban.