A Llandysul man with a life-time ban from keeping horses has been convicted of horse neglect so bad that a long-standing vet described it as the most horrific case he had ever seen.
David Robert Davies, of Maes Dilen, Pentrecwrt, admitted leaving two ponies to suffer so badly that they had to be euthanised to end their pain.
The case was brought before Llanelli Magistrates by Carmarthenshire County Council whose animal welfare officer found the ponies being kept in the dark in waist-high soiled bedding with their hooves so badly deformed that the vet said it was the worst he’d seen in over 40 years of practice.
During their investigation, the council found that Davies had previous convictions for similar animal welfare offences which meant he had been banned from keeping horses for life.
Despite not owning the ponies he admitted he was aware of their condition and should not have let them suffer.
He was sentenced to 12-weeks custody, suspended for 24 months, and was handed a 12-month community order with 250 hours unpaid work and rehabilitation. He was also ordered to pay costs of £6,367 and a victim surcharge of £122.
The case came to light in February, 2020, when a council animal welfare officer carried out an unannounced inspection of sheep kept by Davies at fields he rents in Drefach Felindre.
Whilst waiting for him to arrive she noticed a shed covered with wood pallets and tarpaulin – and on peering through a hole could see two ponies standing in their own faeces.
Accompanied by a vet from the Animal Plant and Health Agency, she entered the shed to find the cob-type ponies in soiled bedding with their coats matted in dried faeces, their hooves badly overgrown and tails so short it appeared they may have eaten their own out of boredom.
The ponies had nothing to eat – one had no water and the other had faeces in his water bucket.
They were kept in the dark, unable to look out of the shed and were only able to touch eachother over a wooden barrier that separated them.
When the defendant arrived and was challenged about the condition of the ponies he said they were not his – at first saying they belonged to the owner of the field and then, when this was denied, saying they belonged to his step-daughter with whom he has no contact.
He did agree however to arrange urgent attention for the ponies, muck out the shed and give them food and clean water.
Over the following days the animal health officer made numerous attempts to contact Davies’s step-daughter but to no avail, and re-visited the ponies when the owner of the field agreed to state they had been abandoned on his land.
It was only when they were brought out into the daylight that their true condition became evident – a vet called to attend to them said the deformity of all four hooves of the black pony were the worst case of neglect he had ever seen in 40 years of practice.
The second black and white pony also had badly neglected feet and walked with muscular tremors suggesting he’d had little or no exercise for a considerable time.
Both were taken away for treatment but just days later had to be euthanised, the vet saying he believed they had been suffering for at least 12 months.
The investigation that followed revealed that Davies was disqualified from owning, keeping or participating in the keeping of horses for life following a prosecution by the RSPCA in 2015.
During interview he maintained that the ponies were owned by his estranged step-daughter, although he accepted that he never saw her at the property or with the ponies.
He said they had been in the shed since around October 2019, but didn’t know who had put them there. Although he would occasionally throw hay and food in for them, he said he had never seen anyone actually feeding them or tending to them.
The landowner, also interviewed, said he was unaware that the ponies were in the shed on his property.
Davies’s step-daughter was eventually tracked down but denied any knowledge of the ponies in the shed.
Appearing at Llanelli Magistrates Court on August 13, Davies pleaded guilty to two offences of causing unnecessary suffering to two horses and breaching a disqualification order in respect of horses.
He admitted that whilst he didn’t own them, he had knowledge of their suffering and failed to get them veterinary help, blaming his declining health, acting as his partner’s sole-carer and home-educating their two children.
Following the conviction, Cllr Philip Hughes, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection, said: “If it were not for the actions of our animal health officer, who acted on a hunch to check the shed, these ponies may still be suffering today. This is an awful, and entirely avoidable, case of shocking neglect.”
(Lead images: Carmarthenshire Council)