Mare left to starve in her field as cancerous tumour was left untreated

  • The breeder of a mare who was left to starve in her field with a cancerous tumour described the prosecution of her owners as a “hollow victory”.

    Tanya Michelle Taylor of Gloucester and Jeff Taylor of Quedgeley were convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to 13-year-old Tallie, at Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court on 9 September.

    Siobhan Spivack told H&H it had been a two-year fight for justice for the mare, whom she bred.

    “She was the sweetest, kindest girl in the world and didn’t deserve what happened to her,” she said.

    “She was groaning in pain – the vet said he’d never seen a horse in that much pain – so we had to have her put down.

    “Afterwards, they did a post-mortem and it turned out she had cancer. She had a mass of it in her chest, a huge growth, and she couldn’t graze.

    “She’d been standing in her field starving to death as she couldn’t eat from the ground. It broke my heart.”

    Siobhan had given Tallie to the Taylors some three or four years previously, as her marriage had broken down. She told H&H the arrangement was that Tallie would be returned if there were any problems, and that she had warned the Taylors of the mare’s medical issues, including sarcoids, a tendency to develop abscesses and a damaged lymphatic system.

    For about three years, Siobhan was in touch with the pair and everything was fine but then in late 2017, she got a call from a friend, who told her to go to see Tallie, and that the RSPCA had been called.

    Siobhan found her mare unwell and in pain, and called a vet. She was taken into hospital but the treatment had no effect.

    “Why didn’t they call the vet?” Siobhan said. “I’m not disputing the fact she would have had to be put down but she was left to suffer for months. She was just standing there with her poo there because she couldn’t move, and she loved her food so the fact she couldn’t eat is so dreadful.”

    Siobhan praised the Forest of Dean District Council, which investigated the situation and brought the prosecution against the Taylors.

    The court heard from members of the public who had seen that Tallie was not moving and looked thin, as well as from vet Andrew Harrison, who said: “In light of the final diagnosis, the prognosis for a successful outcome was hopeless. However, the history of the slow onset of the presenting signs, which include dullness and depression, severe pain and most notably the profound weight loss should have, in my opinion, prompted the keeper of the animal to seek veterinary attention sooner.

    “Furthermore, it is my opinion, that their failure to seek veterinary attention more promptly caused this animal unnecessary suffering.”

    Magistrates found the case was a result of incompetence rather than deliberate cruelty, but that both Taylors were responsible for Tallie’s care, and that had they called a vet, it would have reduced the mare’s suffering.

    In mitigation, the court heard Mr Taylor stated he was trying to treat Tallie with worming and that he was feeding her as he noticed a loss of condition. He also had discussed getting a vet with his ex-wife Mrs Taylor, but this was taken out of his hands by subsequent events.

    Mrs Taylor said Tallie was Jeff’s horse and she was aware he was dealing with it, that she had no medical training and left it to Jeff. She said had she known how bad Tallie was she would have called a vet.

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    They were fined a total of £1,010 and ordered to pay costs of £800.

    Siobhan, who paid Tallie’s extensive veterinary bills, said the case had “sickened” her.

    “I had to pursue it, I couldn’t let it go,” she said.

    “I’m glad they’ve got criminal convictions but it’s a hollow victory. It can’t bring her back, but I want to name and shame them as that’s all I can do.”

    Forest of Dean District Council leader Tim Gwilliam said: “There’s never any pleasure to be gained from this or any of the other horrendous cases of animal cruelty and abuse that this council has brought forward in recent times.

    “I am however proud that by our teams and officers working diligently together, the Forest of Dean District Council is sending out a very clear and blunt message that such cruelty is not acceptable.”

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