Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 14:41 UK

'Horrific' horse cruelty at farm


This footage was taken by RSPCA officials at Rose's stud farm

A stud farm owner has been given a three-month suspended jail sentence after admitting one of the worst cases of neglect an RSPCA inspector had seen.

Dawn Elizabeth Rose, 49, who had admitted six cruelty charges, was also banned from keeping horses for 10 years, by a judge sitting at Mold.

RSPCA officials brought charges after finding 69 horses starving or in a poor condition near Chirk, Flintshire.

Three of the horses later died. Others were "horrifically thin".

Rose, now of Farndon, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to six counts of causing unnecessary suffering to animals when she appeared before District Judge Andrew Shaw at Mold Magistrates Court.

The court heard RSPCA officials, an animal health officer and a vet went to the farm at Pontfadog last September.

Chris Dunbar
Chris Dunbar, RSPCA inspector, speaking after the sentence
The most astonishing thing about this case for me is that we initially removed 17 ponies and spent some time advising Dawn Rose about what was required to improve conditions for her remaining ponies.

When we returned no action had been taken and our advice had been completely ignored. Dawn Rose failed to face up to the seriousness of the situation.

The majority of the ponies removed were underweight but the sight of one pony in particular is something I will never forget. Mist was wearing a coat when we found her and it was only when we removed the coat that I saw the appalling condition she was in. I simply could not believe my eyes when I saw this severely emaciated pony. To this day I do not know how she was still standing.

It is thanks to the dedicated equine staff at Gonsal Farm Animal Centre in Shropshire and her fighting spirit that Mist is alive today. Staff fed her day and night every hour. To see her now you wouldn't believe she was the same animal

The prosecution said the vet concluded that without the RSPCA's intervention many of the horses would have died as a result of malnutrition and parasite infection.

Glen Murphy, prosecuting, said the inspection team was "stunned" by the conditions - shown in court via a DVD - as Rose had already been issued advice notices.

He said: "Perhaps the worst example was a horse called Mist.

"The animal was described by Inspector Chris Dunbar as the thinnest horse he had ever seen and the vet David Martin was amazed it ever managed to stay on its feet.

"He said it was the thinnest horse he had ever seen alive or dead in 11 years."

The court heard a grey mare called Owen had to be but down and two others died later at the RSPCA's sanctuary at Gonsal Farm, Shrewsbury.

Horrifically thin horses and ponies roamed in rancid paddocks, standing in their own excrement while foraging for scraps of food.

The court was told Rose, a mother-of-one, had agreed to hand over the horses because she was broke and could not afford their care.

"The defendant was just totally unrealistic," said Mr Murphy.

"By taking on so many animals she was physically and financially unable to cope with the demands."

James Bagby, defending, said his client had come through two abusive relationships and suffered from depression and anxiety.

He said: "She tried to do everything she could."

Due to her financial circumstances, Rose was ordered to repay only £250 of the estimated £128,554 prosecution brought by the RSPCA.

Emaciated horse
This mare was found in an emaciated condition

Judge Shaw also ordered her to perform 100 hours unpaid work. Her three month prison sentence was suspended for 12 months.

He said: "You neglected these horses in an obvious and shameful way. The condition of the horses was obvious to anybody.

"You allowed your personal problems to overwhelm you and failed in your responsibility as an owner.

"Their plight was obvious to you and your failure to alleviate it was cruel."

After the sentencing, Inspector Dunbar said it was "fair sentence" but the disqualification order could have been for life.

He said: "A frustrating aspect is we tried to give her advice through improvement notices but she didn't adhere to it.

"I can't describe how bad the suffering was - especially for Mist - as soon as we took the rug off her it was a jaw dropping moment - complete silence for everybody there.

"She was just skeleton with skin stretched over."

He paid tribute to vets and equine centres who helped the horses recover.

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