A mother and daughter have give a suspended prison sentence after leaving their ponies to suffer severe laminitis. Teresa O’Rourke, 55, from Peterborough and her daughter Sarah O’Rourke, 22, pleaded guilty on the first day of their trial in Peterborough Magistrates Court earlier this month. Christopher Kenneally, 54, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing.
The ponies, Pamela, a palomino Shetland, her mother Lucy, and another mother and daughter, Carly and Prancer, caught the attention of a member of the public who reported them to World Horse Welfare. “I could see immediately that five of the six ponies were showing signs of laminitis but unfortunately Mrs O’Rourke would not allow us to enter the property to inspect them more closely,” says World Horse Welfare Field Officer Jacko Jackson, who was first on the scene.
Jacko returned the following day with the police, RSPCA and a vet and all six ponies were removed on welfare grounds. “Sadly two of the ponies, Chester and Tara, had such chronic laminitis that they were put to sleep – it would have been impossible for them to make a pain-free recovery,” he says, adding that he has never come across so many horses suffering from laminitis at the same time in one location.
“The grazing was very lush and there was no indication that it was being restricted or that the ponies were being treated. They were all very obviously in pain and some were unable to move at all,” he explains.
Thankfully Pamela, Carly, Lucy and Prancer are all making good progress at Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre.
Mrs O’Rourke was given a 12 week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, a 6 month supervision order with probation and was banned for 10 years from keeping equines and ordered to pay £500 costs. Her daughter had the suspended sentence she was already serving for an unrelated conviction extended by 6 months and was given 200 hours of unpaid community service which must be served within 12 months plus £500 costs and a 2 year disqualification from keeping equines.
Mr Kenneally was given 120 hours of unpaid community service which must be served within 12 months, ordered to pay £300 costs, was handed a 2 year disqualification from keeping any animal.
They also received Deprivation Orders, ensuring that the ownership of all of the ponies involved in the case was legally given to World Horse Welfare.
Jacko, who attended the case as a witness, says: “Watching and listening to Mrs O’Rourke there was absolutely no remorse, which is something the judge commented on and is the most disappointing outcome.”
– For more information about the work of World Horse Welfare see www.worldhorsewelfare.org