A British couple from Tyne and Wear has been banned for life from keeping animals after RSPCA inspectors found 40 neglected horses at their home.
Gordon Hamilton Metcalf and Denise Ann Clark, of Rutland Street, Hetton-le-Hole, were convicted, following a trial at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on October 7th. They were each charged with five animal welfare offences by the RSPCA. The court ruled based on testimony from RSPCA inspectors Terri-Ann Fannon and Gemma Lynch as well as World Horse Welfare Field Officer Seema Ritson. They claimed to have found the horses in terrible condition.
Horses were stuck in mud up to their knees
According to the inspectors, the couple’s horses were kept in their stables with mud up to their knees and the foals were stuck with mud almost up to their chests, which is why they could hardly move around the paddock. In addition, there was no dry standing area, water, hay or dry bedding. Many of the horses were locked in areas that were contaminated with feces.
Due to the lack of dry standing space and the lack of treatment by a farrier, many horses’ hooves were severely overgrown, curled or twisted. A number of other horses were in similarly poor health conditions. One Shetland pony was malnourished and suffered from lameness and arthritis in the shoulders. One mare had thick, matted fur around her badly overgrown hooves and was also malnourished.
Fannon found horses in the “worst conditions she had ever seen”
Inspector Fannon said in court that she had never seen such a bad case. She added that the horses were standing in piles of hay, dirt and feces up to 1 meter high and there was no access to get in or out of the stables. She also accused Metcalf of knowingly hiding the horses in such conditions for a long period of time.
According to her, the horses were standing so high on top of the dirt, they were not able to lift their heads or else they would touch the roof of the stable. Apparently, it took several hours to free the horses from their stalls. One stall door was even nailed shut and had to be pried open with a crowbar.
Couple warned beforehand not to keep horses on their property in winter
It turned out that the couple had already been advised the previous year not to keep horses on their property during winter due to the muddy conditions. Still, no improvements had been made. They only built an area with cobblestones, which the horses could not stand on.
Horses taken into care of RSPCA
After hours of effort to free a total of 40 neglected horses from their stalls, the animals were first examined by a veterinarian. They were then taken to the RSPCA’s facilities for safekeeping.
Metcalf was sentenced to a lifetime ban from keeping animals, an 18-week prison with 10 months probation and 750 pounds costs. Clark was fined a 10-year ban from keeping animals, a 180-pound fine and 750 pounds costs.