Five-year ban for woman who neglected Shetland ponies

  • A woman from Kent has been banned from keeping horses for five years after being found guilty of neglecting six horses.

    Suzanne Hefferman, also known as Sue Williams, 43, of Sidcup, Kent, was found guilty of 10 offences brought by the RSPCA under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, at Bromley Magistrates on 23 January.

    A World Horse Welfare field officer and two RSPCA inspectors visited the site on North Cray Road, Sidcup, on 3 December 2010, after a call from the public about two collapsed ponies.

    Hefferman and two vets were already on site and attending to a collapsed, emaciated Shetland mare, called Ugly Betty, who required immediate euthanasia.

    Subsequent examination of all the horses led to five more being removed and warning notices issued to ensure the care of those remaining.

    The animals removed were all in an emaciated condition and covered in lice.

    And two of them, Annie, a young brown filly (pictured), and Scary Mary, a brown Shetland mare, were also euthanised.

    The others – piebald colt Oliver, Rocky, a skewbald colt, and Teeny Tiny Tony, a brown miniature Shetland foal – were taken to World Horse Welfare’s Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Snetterton, Norfolk.

    Hefferman was found guilty of failing to meet the needs of the horses by failing to provide them with a suitable environment and failing to provide a suitable diet.

    She was also convicted of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to provide the necessary veterinary treatment for her ponies’ emaciation, diarrhoea, hypothermia and oedema (fluid retention).

    World Horse Welfare officer Claire Gordon said: “The conditions of the livery yard were the worst I have ever seen.

    “The stables were filthy and saturated with urine and had clearly not been mucked out for several weeks.

    “The ponies were found without food or water and many were emaciated or in poor bodily condition. They were riddled with lice and worms.”

    She said a post mortem examination of Ugly Betty found only sand in her intestine.

    “It was clear that no one had attended to the horses for several days as there was no evidence of footprints or any disturbance in the snow, which was about a foot and a half deep at the time,” said Ms Gordon.

    Teeny Tiny Tony, Rocky and Oliver have been undergoing rehabilitation at World Horse Welfare’s Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Norfolk.

    Rocky and Oliver are now ready to be rehomed.

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