A CONWY man has been banned from keeping animals for a decade after pleading guilty to four Animal Welfare Act offences related to his “appalling” and “long-running” treatment of equines.
Steven Martin Lock, 54 – of Penisaf Avenue, Towyn – admitted the offences at Llandudno Magistrates’ Court on Monday (29 April), related to the mistreatment of eight equines – including seven mares and one stallion.
RSPCA Cymru had long been monitoring the welfare of a number of horses, at fields off Tan-y-Fron Road in Abergele. However – despite repeated warnings and the provision of advice – the welfare of a number of the animals started to decline sharply over the autumn of 2018.
Officers removed three mares and a filly from the site in October, who were found to be suffering as a consequence of their poor condition. They were found to be very underweight and have severe diarrhoea. Three foals belonging to the mares were also removed, because they were too young to come away from their mothers.
Despite this – and the repeated efforts of RSPCA officers – Lock failed to meet the needs of other equines in his care. A further three mares, a filly and a stallion were removed in December – many appearing thin, and living amid muddy, inappropriate conditions. One was found to be suffering, while the remainder were not having their needs sufficiently met.
A post-mortem examination of two of the equines – who sadly had to be put to sleep after becoming seriously unwell – showed they had serious liver damage thought to be caused from the plant ragwort, toxic to equines as well as internal damage caused by parasites.
World Horse Welfare worked with the RSPCA in helping the horses involved in this case.
Lock – in addition to the ten-year ban – was handed a curfew between the hours of 7pm and 6am Monday to Saturday and 10pm to 6am on Sundays. A contribution of £250 will also be made towards costs.
RSPCA inspector Jenny Anderton said: “This was a really difficult case to work on, given the repeated attempts and efforts we made to support this individual with caring for the horses.
“We worked closely with World Horse Welfare to help these horses, and we’re very grateful, as always, for their support, assistance and expertise.
“Sadly, the man’s failure to provide proper care was long-running, and some of the treatment these horses endured was appalling.
“Many were very thin, and living in wholly inappropriate muddy conditions. Others were struggling with severe diarrhoea and urgently needed help.
“Owning equines should be a privilege – but despite repeated warnings and attempts of help, this individual repeatedly failed to give the equines the care they so desperately needed.
“I hope this incident highlights to people how important it is to give equines appropriate treatment for parasites, be vigilant against the toxic plant ragwort as well as consulting your vet at the first sign of any illness. “Horses have complex needs, are expensive to keep properly and time-consuming to look after. I would urge anyone considering taking on a horse to ensure they have the necessary financial means and specialist knowledge before they do so.”