A north-east man has been jailed for 14 months and handed a lifetime ban after what one SSPCA inspector described as the “worse case” of neglect they had seen in 12 years and which resulted in a pony being put to sleep.
Gary Stevens admitted failing to provide adequate care for a donkey and Shetland pony at Peterhead Sheriff Court on Tuesday.
The 53-year-old, whose address was given as Hallmoss Farm, Inverugie, was handed the maximum sentence of 18 months, reduced to 14 months due to his guilty plea.
In June 2018, following reports of welfare concerns made to the Scottish SPCA’s helpline, inspectors visited the farm.
A follow up investigation was carried out after the animals went missing, with inspectors finding them at another address with other ponies including Shetland Pony Itsy, were found.
Due to the extent of her issues, including front feet so badly deformed they couldn’t be corrected by a vet, and her overall poor body condition – which was linked to pain and stress – the decision was made to put her to sleep immediately.
A donkey examined during the first visit – that had gone missing from Hallcross Farm – was taken away after instructions left in a care notice, including that she should be seen by a vet, were ignored.
The donkey has since made a full recovery and has been successfully rehomed.
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Scottish SPCA inspector Fiona McKenzie said: “In my 12 years as a Scottish SPCA inspector, this is one of the worst cases I’ve ever dealt with and I’ve never seen such a disregard for animal welfare.
“The vet in attendance said the state of Itsy, the Shetland pony, was the most extreme case he’d come across in 34 years of practising.”
She added: “We made every attempt to work constructively with Stevens and his family, including issuing statutory care notices to improve the welfare of their animals.
“They rebuffed this offer of support and were uncooperative.
“Ultimately, they attempted to hide the animals under the guise of them having been rehomed.
“This left us with no choice but to make a report to the Procurator Fiscal. From this investigation we took ownership of over 45 animals including horses, pigs, sheep, lambs, cats, dogs and terrapins.”