Emaciated mare with infected wound could not be saved by rescuers

  • An emaciated mare suffering with arthritis and an infected wound had to be put down following her rescue as her condition continued to deteriorate.

    Stephen John Challis, 59, of Brickfield Lane, Burnham, Slough, was sentenced at Reading Magistrates’ Court on 17 March, following a hearing on 15 January.

    Challis was convicted of three offences under the Animal Welfare Act; causing unnecessary suffering to bay mare Bonny by failing to investigate and address her poor condition and weight loss, failing to provide veterinary care for her injured leg and lameness caused by osteoarthritis, and failing to provide adequate hoof care between 2 April and 4 August 2019.

    **Warning: upsetting image**

    RSPCA inspector Rachel Smith, who led the investigation, said even from a distance she could see how thin Bonny was.

    “Her ribs, spine, hips and pelvis were prominent,” she said. “She had a dirty bandage on her front left leg and her knee appeared swollen. Her hooves were long, with both front hooves split in several places indicating a lack of recent appropriate farriery care.

    “I arranged for a vet to examine the mare who confirmed she was in a suffering state. Removing her bandage revealed an old infected wound that was green and smelt.

    The inspector said despite Bonny receiving treatment for her emaciated condition and injury, the mare’s condition deteriorated further.

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    “Sadly a vet recommended it would be in her best interest to put her to sleep,” she said.

    Challis confirmed he had not had a vet attend “for a long time” and said he trimmed the mare’s hooves himself. He denied being the owner or person responsible for Bonny but accepted that he had acted as her carer for the last 15-20 years by way of his daily feeding and maintenance for her. It was also said that he cared for an older relative and had been impacted the coronavirus pandemic.

    He was banned from keeping equines for four years, and sentenced to 16 weeks’ imprisonment concurrent for each offence, suspended for 12 months. He must undertake 180 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,000 costs.

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