A donkey had to be dug out of five feet of his own faeces in a “shocking” case of neglect.
Timmy, pictured, was one of five donkeys who were rescued along with three ponies after an investigation involving the Donkey Sanctuary, World Horse Welfare, the RSPCA and West Yorkshire Police.
One donkey with “permanent and irreversible” hoof damage had to be put down, as did two of the ponies.
Malcolm Wood, 66, and Angela Wood, both of Muffit Lane, Gomersal, West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to six offences under the animal welfare act at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court on 12 January.
World Horse Welfare field officer Sarah Tucker had been working with the Woods on the care of their donkeys but during a visit with Donkey Sanctuary welfare adviser Hannah Bryer and RSPCA inspector Samantha Weston last June, the true scale of the problem became clear.
Initially, they were shown three donkeys, but after a bray was heard, two more and three ponies were discovered.
“Two donkeys, Tommy and Timmy, were housed next to each other in a barn with a door separating them,” Hannah said.
“Both were standing on their own excrement with nowhere clean or comfortable to rest. The faeces were built up so high on Timmy’s side that metal bars and wood had been put across the top of his stable door which I can only imagine was to prevent him falling five foot to the ground below.
“It’s horrifying to think how long he had been shut in what I could only describe as his own personal prison. I just wanted to get them out of there as quickly as possible.’’
Two ponies were found in a dark stable, one of whom “had to be carried out as he was so frightened of the light, having been confined to the stable his whole life, never seeing sunshine before”.
Once a vet established the animals’ suffering, they were removed.
Farrier Chris Anderson said: “When assessing two of the donkeys, Rosie and Timmy, it was obvious they had been subjected to a form of ‘do it yourself’ trimming.
“Hooves are complicated structures and without the right experience and training, you can cause a lot more harm than good. I can only describe the condition of these donkeys’ feet as nothing short of barbaric.’’
The four surviving donkeys were nursed back to health while the one surviving pony has been re-homed by World Horse Welfare.
All those involved praised the way the organisations worked together on the case.
Angela Wood pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the five donkeys for failing to provide appropriate farriery care. She admitted failing to investigate one donkey’s poor condition and failing to provide two with a suitable environment.
Malcolm admitted failing to provide three ponies with a suitable living environment and failing to investigate the cause of one pony’s poor condition.
Both were banned from keeping equines for life, sentenced to a six-month community order and ordered to pay £100 each in costs.
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Hannah, who shot the video above, said: “A lifetime ban from keeping equines reflects the severity of this case.
“Sadly cases like this highlight the continuing need to protect equines across the UK from abuse, cruelty and neglect.”