Christine Kelly: woman who kept ill horses and pregnant dogs living in squalid conditions dodges jail
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A farmer who kept more than 200 animals in squalid conditions, with some emaciated creatures standing on up to three feet of faeces, has dodged prison.
Christine Kelly, 60, kept 130 horses and 60 dogs, as well as donkeys, chickens, alpacas and goats in dangerous barns.
Huge herds of ponies, many riddled with worms, were living out in fields with hazardous metal and broken fencing were left sticking up from the thick mud.
Dozens of dogs - some heavily pregnant and others with tiny puppies in tow - were found chained and tethered on the filthy yard, while others were shut inside tiny cramped cages or makeshift kennels.
Inside two barns were pens full of donkeys, goats and ponies - many were left standing on top of 2ft to 3ft of waste and faeces built up over months, the RSPCA discovered.
Shocking photos taken by inspectors show incredibly skinny donkeys lying on the ground, while others had fur matted with faeces and untreated conditions.
The police raided Kelly’s farm in January 2019, and charged with several animal cruelty offences.
She was was found guilty of failing to meet the needs of 131 equines by failing to provide a suitable environment, a water supply, adequate nutrition, routine dental or farrier care, or adequate parasitic treatment or control and treatment for prevention of illness and disease.
She was also convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a number of horses, dogs and goats.
Kelly, claimed throughout the investigation that she was not responsible for all of the animals who were found on-site, saying she only owned dogs and that she took care of six horses for her grandchildren.
But earlier this month a district judge found her guilty of 15 offences including five for failing to meet the needs of a number of animals at the farm and 10 for causing unnecessary suffering.
At Staines Magistrates’ Court, Kelly, of Ripley Surrey, was handed a 26-week prison sentence - suspended for 18 months - as well as being banned from keeping all animals for life.
A deprivation order - relating to 12 dogs and seven horses - was also issued, meaning the charities can now rehome them.
All other animals had previously been signed over for care by the charities or to be rehomed.
Rescuers discovered 204 horses, dogs and farm animals living in horrific conditions, with three having to be put down at the scene and 14 horses either died or were euthanised after vets tried to treat them for their illnesses.
A total of 20 foals were later born in charity care - although two were sadly stillborn - as well as six goat kids, one alpaca and nine puppies - although two died shortly after birth.
Hazel Stevens, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said in her sentencing summary in court that many animals did not enough water to drink or clean bedding.
She said: "Generally, the premises were in a bad state, the housing for the animals was inadequate and in many cases it presented a risk to the animals contained within the various enclosures.
"There was little adequate shelter, the areas were dirty and muddy, and many animals did not have access to clean, dry resting areas or water to drink.”
Ms Stevens told the court Kelly’s culpability was high - due to the "prolonged neglect" extending to over a year - and because the poor treatment of the animals was in a "commercial context".
She also told the court that it caused a "high level of suffering" to the animals at the farm.
RSPCA Special Operations Unit case officer Kirsty Withnall, who co-ordinated the huge rescue mission and led the investigation, said: “One goat found in one of the barns was severely emaciated, unable to stand and filthy; deemed to be suffering and had to be put to sleep on site.
“Dogs were found to be living in an unsuitable environment without a safe place to rest, some in crates too small for them, and some in dirty and wet kennels.
"Others were underweight or had serious health problems such as skin conditions, ear infections and dental disease.”
Describing the shocking conditions rescuers found inside the barn, Inspector Withnall added: “We found two ponies both suffering from cyathostomiasis, a disease caused by parasites, who were collapsed on top of each other.
"I initially thought one of the ponies was dead. Both were very weak and thin and, sadly, had to be put to sleep on site.”
A large number of horses were found out in the fields and investigators felt that none had been protected from hazards that could cause injury, and had not been provided with adequate care and nutrition, the RSPCA said.
Limpopo was one of the rescued horses and was found scared and would try to run away from people, shaking with fear.
She was underweight and had sores all over the body where she had bitten herself until she bled. She was one of 26 horses taken in by charity Bransby Horses.
Specialist teams treated her for chronic inflammation, liver disease, intestinal damage due to untreated worms, and lice.
After 18 months, she was finally back to good health and slowly started to trust people before being matched with a family and is now enjoying a new home.
Donkeys Heidi, Max, Lady, Mars and Karen were nervous and distrustful of people - some were extremely underweight and had severely overgrown hooves.
One of the mares soon gave birth to a foal and, slowly all started to trust again and are now thriving after taken in by The Donkey Sanctuary, the RSPCA said.