Rescue centre owner admits cruelty charges

Rescue centre owner admits cruelty charges

A woman who ran a pony rescue centre has been banned from keeping animals for ten years, after admitting causing unnecessary suffering to two horses.

Sarah Henderson set up the Native Pony Rescue Sanctuary in September 2011. However, visits by the RSPCA and local vets revealed that some of the ponies were underfed and being kept in dirty conditions.

The RSPCA tried to help Henderson over a number of months, but she refused their offers, which was why the charity brought charges against her.

“Ms Henderson was given many, many opportunities to avoid this situation but she simply refused to follow the advice that she was given,” said RSPCA inspector Jackie Paradis.

"One of the RSPCA's equine centre managers even visited her to help her to set up welfare protocols for the horses in her care, but she didn't want to co-operate.”

Henderson continued to take on more horses but, according to Jackie, she wasn't even registered with a vet.

"We were attending for many months before we were forced to go down this route,” she said.

Henderson pleaded guilty to four charges of cruelty, which included failing to provide veterinary care for a piebald called Chance, who was “emaciated and in a collapsed state” and causing unnecessary suffering by transporting him while in this condition.

Henderson was also charged with failing to address the poor condition and weight loss of a bay called Bambi, who had a skin infection and dental problems.

The mare made a full recovery and has since been re-homed, but Chance sadly died as a result of his poor health.

The 43-year-old admitted to the charges, although Giles Hunter, who was defending Henderson, said that many of the horses who came to her yard in Castleside, County Durham were already in a bad condition and that she was "doing her best".

District Judge Andrew Meachin agreed that Henderson had started the rescue centre with good intentions, but had “taken on more than she could chew” and, instead of accepting help, she had “buried her head in the sand”.

Henderson was sentenced to eight weeks in prison, which was suspended for 12 months, and banned from keeping or transporting animals for ten years. She must also pay almost £7,000 in costs.

"In situations like this we always hope for a ban as it's the best way to ensure the welfare of animals in future," said Jackie.