‘She failed in her duty and animals suffered’: woman’s life-ban on keeping animals remains after appeal quashed

  • A woman convicted of neglecting two donkeys and a mule found living in “hazard-strewn” conditions has had her appeal quashed following a two-day hearing.

    Susan Shears, 75, of Gowdall, Goole, East Riding of Yorkshire had denied seven animal welfare offences and was found guilty after a trial at Beverley Magistrates’ Court on 3 August 2021. She was given a 20-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, banned from keeping equines for life and ordered to pay £3,000 in costs when she was sentenced at Hull Magistrates’ Court in October 2021.

    Shears lost her appeal against her conviction, following a hearing last week (14 to 15 September) at Hull Crown Court. Recorder Taryn Turner and two magistrates dismissed the appeal in full, meaning the convictions and sentence of 3 August 2021 remain. She has also been ordered to pay £2,000 costs.

    “I’m pleased this long-running case has now finally concluded,” said RSPCA inspector Thomas Hutton. “Shears failed in her duty towards these animals and they suffered as a result.”

    The donkeys, named Daisy and Dora, and Ebony the mule, were found in a field full of ragwort in 2019. Their shelter was an old disused work container, which the RSPCA said was too small and had sharp edges and canvas straps still attached inside.

    There was no hard standing, their water supply was dirty, and all three equines had overgrown teeth and hooves. Police forced entry into the field using bolt cutters, and gave permission for RSPCA inspector Hutton, staff from The Donkey Sanctuary and an independent vet to enter.

    The animals were seized by police and passed into the RSPCA’s care. They were then taken to a holding base, funded by The Donkey Sanctuary, for urgent dental and farrier treatment.

    Shears had previously been offered help and advised of the action she needed to take to safeguard the animals’ welfare, which had been ignored.

    In mitigation during the original case, Shears “blamed others” for the situation.

    Ebony was put down on veterinary advice, as a result of her dental issues. Dora, who had laminitis, and Daisy responded well to treatment. They have remained in the care of The Donkey Sanctuary, owing to their ongoing needs.

    Speaking after the appeal hearing, Hannah Bryer, head of welfare at The Donkey Sanctuary said: “Daisy and Dora were placed into our care pending the outcome of this investigation and the subsequent court proceedings. Both donkeys have ongoing care and veterinary needs, and over the past four years we have continually monitored their health and response to treatment.”

    She added: “Earlier this year Daisy developed a degenerative and painful eye condition. After consultation with vets, it was decided the best course of action was to remove her eye. Daisy has recovered well from this operation, and we will continue to regularly assess their quality of life to ensure decisions are made with their best interests at heart.”

    Inspector Hutton added: “Thanks to The Donkey Sanctuary’s care and expertise, [these two donkeys] are now enjoying their lives and it’s fantastic to see them looking well.”

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