Pensioner banned after allowing up to 15 horses to die

  • A Scottish pensioner has today been banned from keeping animals for life after after up to 15 horses died in her care and a further 23 were found in “dreadful conditions”.

    At a previous hearing, Valerie Pritchard, 65, of Cuminestown, Turriff, Aberdeenshire, was found guilty of five offences of causing unnecessary suffering to the horses, under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act.

    Today (10 January), Pritchard received a lifetime ban and was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, when she appeared at Banff Sheriff Court

    World Horse Welfare field officer Doug Howie visited Pritchard’s farm on Wednesday 14 May 2009 in response to a call from a member of the public about a large number of horses in a field that looked underweight.

    Mr Howie found a foal that had been stillborn that morning along with a herd of 23 semi-feral stallions, mares and foals in a poached field with little grass and no shelter.

    One of the fillies, a two-year-old, could not get to her feet, was sweating and her eyes were rolling. She had to be put to sleep.

    And on a further visit between 12 and 15 dead horses were found in a barn.

    The surviving horses, which were underweight, had poor feet and were covered in lice, were taken to World Horse Welfare’s Belwade Farm rescue and rehoming centre in Aberdeenshire.

    Pritchard admitted one charge of failing to dispose of carcases but denied the four charges of causing unnecessary suffering and one charge of failing to provide for the welfare of her horses.

    She was found guilty at a hearing in November 2011.

    Cara Cameron, who has been caring for one of the horses rescued from Pritchard’s farm, said she was overcome with emotion by the sentence.

    “We have been waiting so long for this day,” she told H&H.

    Cara adopted three-year-old Frodo two years ago and has watched him grow from a frightened yearling to a strapping 15.2hh potential eventer.

    A spokesman for World Horse Welfare also welcomed the sentence, adding that it was quite rare for someone to banned from keeping all animals for life.

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