Horse found with maggot-ridden cancerous tumour left to suffer ‘for months’

The owner of a horse found with a maggot-ridden cancerous tumour that had been left untreated for up to 18 months has been banned from keeping equines for three years.

Shirley Miller, of Swireford Road, Helsby, was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to 23-year-old gelding Bradley, at Chester Magistrates’ Court after a three-day trial.

The court heard Miller, 59, had failed to seek veterinary treatment for a large tumour on Bradley’s penis – a veterinary witness said he believed it had been left untreated for 12 to 18 months.

The issue was noticed when Miller loaned the horse to a woman, who realised he needed treatment and called a vet, last August. The vet advised calling the RSPCA, and inspector Leanne Cragg was sent to investigate.

“Leanne said the vet found the cancerous tumour to be 10cm long and 8cm wide,” said an RSPCA spokesman. “The tumour had been left untreated for so long that maggots were also visible. The vet said he believed Bradley had been left untreated for between 12 to 18 months and the tumour was inoperable.”

Miller denied the charge of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to seek veterinary attention, saying she checked the horses daily but did not know Bradley had any health issues.

“Poor Bradley must have lived in agony for at least 12 months – even urinating would have caused him horrendous pain,” Ms Cragg said.

“The court was of the view that any reliable and competent owner would have noticed the suffering. It was clear he was in discomfort; there was a horrendous smell caused by tumour and maggots had infested it, which must have been almost unbearable for him.

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“After hearing from expert veterinary witnesses the district judge was satisfied Miller would have known about the health issue.”

Bradley was cared for by his loaner but in October, a vet advised he was “suffering so much the kindest thing would be to put him down”.

Miller was ordered to pay £9,850 costs and a £1,500 fine at the end of the trial last Wednesday (26 June).

Her ban has been suspended for six weeks so she can make arrangements for her other eight horses.

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