Pony left without medication for days and owner charged £500 after police misread microchip

  • The owner of a pony who was let out of her field and left without medication for days has criticised the way police dealt with the issue, after they misread the microchip – and charged her £500.

    Paige Wells’ two mares, 14-year-old May and three-year-old Nelly, were found on the road last Tuesday morning (17 January). Paige told H&H she found out from a Facebook post, and although the description was inaccurate, and when she called police she was told no loose horses had been reported, she realised the ponies were hers.

    “The fence to their field backs on to a woody bit, then the road,” she said. “It had been pushed into the field, so it wasn’t the horses breaking out, it was someone pushing in. But I wasn’t being told anything.”

    Paige said she called police back on 101, and it was only when she provided a reference number from the person who had originally reported the loose horses that she was told what was happening.

    “They said I’d have to go to the police station, with their passports, as they’d been taken to a green yard,” she said. “The officer told me they wouldn’t have been taken there if my pony’s chip hadn’t been blank, they’d have contacted me.”

    Paige said she “panicked a bit” and called her vet and passport-issuing authority and both confirmed the chip was in her name.

    “I wasn’t allowed any information and the police said I’d have to pay a £500 release fee, and it had to be cash,” she said. “They said they weren’t allowed to release them until I’d paid, and then it could be up to four days they keep them for. I told police May has to be medicated as she’s got asthma; she’d never been away from me since I got her wild from the New Forest, and they’d put her in a stable without it. I asked to speak to the sergeant as it’s a veterinary issue, and if I could leave the medication to be passed on, but they refused to give the pony the medication she needs. They said ‘they’re horse people, they’ll know what she needs’ but you wouldn’t know, without a vet.”

    Paige said the police told her they would call her on the day the ponies could be collected, which she added would make booking transport very difficult for anyone without their own, but when she “pushed”, they agreed the handover could be on Wednesday.

    Police use approved “green yards” to temporarily house horses found loose; owners are charged a fee to recover them and are not told where they are. Handovers of horses are made elsewhere to keep the yards’ locations secure.

    Paige said she waited at the spot and time she was told but no one turned up; eventually, when she called 101, she was told they were waiting in another location.

    “May was really stressed,” she said. “She’ll normally load for me but it took us 20 minutes to get her in the transport she’s in most weekends,” she said. “The whole ordeal has been so traumatic and stressful for me and the pony. I understand why they have to keep the location secret but it’s not like I was fly-grazing; their fence was pushed in and they were registered in my name.

    “The police were rude and not bothered that May was asthmatic – I had an £800 vet’s bill six months ago after an asthma attack – and I felt I was being treated like a criminal; that it was my fault and she wasn’t registered in my name, when she was. Everything gave my name and address and it could have been a lot easier, with no stress to anyone. And £500, given the cost of living, is extortionate.”

    A Kent Police spokesman said officers were called at 1.52 am on 17 January to a report of two stray horses.

    “Officers attended and carried out local enquiries to identify the owner, with no success. It was arranged for the horses to be taken to a safe and secure location. A notice was left at the scene to inform the as yet unidentified owners about the recovery of the animals.

    “The horses’ microchip numbers were checked against an animal microchip database. One identified an owner and the other was shown as unregistered. Enquiries with the registered person identified the owner of the second horse.

    “On Wednesday 18 January, the horses were returned. There was a small delay in completing the handover while a veterinary nurse undertook full checks prior to transportation.”

    Police confirmed the chip was later rechecked and found to be registered to its owner.

    Updated: Friday, 27 January: Kent Police contacted H&H to state that details of the horses’ medical and dietary requirements were passed to specialist equine staff at the secure location, while arrangements were made to return the horses.

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