Four people have been banned from keeping equines after sick horses were found living in the same field as a rotting carcass and ragwort.
Harry Dunn, Tommy Tucker Dunn, Matthew Dunn and Christine Chambers were found guilty of offences under the Animal Welfare Act and sentenced on Monday (6 Febrary) at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court following a two-day trial.
The offences related to seven horses kept on South Ash Road in Sevenoaks, Kent.
These were a Shetland pony and foal, who were both “very thin and riddled with worms”; two other foals who had an untreated respiratory condition; a thin skewbald pony with a worm burden; a thin mare and a colt with poor hooves.
“It’s shocking to think that between the Dunn family and Chambers, none of them provided adequate care for their horses,” said Deborah Pert following the sentencing.
“I was shocked at the conditions not only of the field, which was atrocious, but the horses themselves, they were in a terrible state.
“I could see the carcass of a dead horse rotting in one part of the field and there was poisonous ragwort growing all over the place. It was a completely unacceptable way to keep horses.”
Police took in the equines in February last year, following months of welfare work by the RSPCA, the British Horse Society, Redwings Horse Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare.
Inspector Pert added this is a “great example” of successful multi-agency work.
“We are experiencing a very serious spate of horse welfare cases in Kent at the moment,” she said.
“This case sends out a clear message that between all the organisations involved, we are doing everything we can to tackle this crisis.”
All four defendants, who declined to be interviewed by the RSPCA, were ordered to relinquish ownership of all their horses in line with their disqualification orders, and their full charges and sentences are as follows:
- Harry Dunn, 66, of South Ash Road in Sevenoaks, was found guilty of two offences of causing unnecessary suffering and one of keeping animals in an unsuitable environment. He was banned from keeping horses for one year and ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge, £400 costs and £550 fine.
- Matthew Dunn, 27, son of Harry Dunn, also of South Ash Road in Sevenoaks, was also found guilty of two offences of causing unnecessary suffering and two section 9 offences relating to the unsuitable environment the horses were kept in. He was banned from keeping horses for two years and ordered to pay a £40 victim surcharge, £400 costs and £400 fine.
- Tommy Tucker Dunn, 27, Harry Dunn’s nephew, again of South Ash Road in Sevenoaks, was found guilty of one offence of causing unnecessary suffering and one section 9 offence. He was banned from keeping horses for two years and ordered to pay a £40 victim surcharge, £400 costs and £400 fine.
- Family friend Christine Chambers, 60, of Porchester Close, was found guilty of one offence of causing unnecessary suffering and two welfare offences related to the conditions the horses were kept in. She was banned from keeping horses for two years and ordered to pay a £40 victim surcharge, £400 costs and £400 fine.
It is understood that Chambers believed there was nothing wrong with the site or the horses.
Officers from Kent County Council and Kent Police were also involved in the multi-agency operation and a further 29 unclaimed horses, whose owners were not traceable, were removed.
These were taken in by the RSPCA, with four moved to World Horse Welfare.
“When the four ponies came into our care, it was clear that none of them had been receiving the care they needed by their previous owners,” said Claire Phillips, manager of World Horse Welfare’s Glenda Spooner Farm rescue and rehoming centre.
“All of the ponies were underweight, covered in muck and filth, and suffering from overgrown feet.
“Some were unhandled and nervous of human contact but over time they have learned to trust the grooms caring for them and are unrecognisable from the quiet, lethargic ponies who arrived.
“We are delighted that Jaffa has already found a loving home where he is enjoying his role as a loyal companion, Echo recently joined our rehoming scheme and is looking for his ideal home, whilst Cocoa is having a fantastic time with the other youngsters at the farm as she continues her rehabilitation.
She added that Clippy has become “something of a celebrity” as he has inspired the charity’s garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
“We are so glad to see all of the four ponies putting their difficult past behind them and facing a bright future,” said Ms Phillips.