RSPCA: Three banned from keeping horses after 'thinnest horse vet had ever seen' found riddled with parasites

One horse found injured and severely underweight later had to be euthanised
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Three people have been banned from keeping horses for seven years each - after two horses in their care were found to be starving and riddled with parasitic worms.

Kerry Pugh, 43, of Herefordshire, and Jessica Pugh and Oliver Fairy, both 21-year-olds from Worcestershire, recently appeared at Hereford Magistrate’ Court, each pleading guilty to one animal welfare offence relating to horse neglect. Fairy pleaded guilty to failing to meet the needs of a grey mare named Totti, while Kerry and Jessica Pugh admitted to failing to meet the needs of a chestnut mare named Autumn.

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All three were disqualified from keeping equines for seven years, and ordered to pay costs. In a written statement provided to the court, RSPCA inspector Suzane Smith, said that on 22 March last year she visited a stables in Ledbury, after the charity received a call concerning underweight horses.

Autumn later had to be put down, due to a serious shoulder injury (Photo: RSPCA/Supplied)Autumn later had to be put down, due to a serious shoulder injury (Photo: RSPCA/Supplied)
Autumn later had to be put down, due to a serious shoulder injury (Photo: RSPCA/Supplied)

Inspector Smith said Autumn was shown to her wearing a rug. "But despite the rug I could see she was extremely angular with the rug hanging on her like she was a coat hanger," she said. "There was no food or water in the stable, there was no bedding, there was some faeces.”

The owner of the stables told her the horse was owned by Jess Pugh and Oliver Fairy. Fairy told inspector Smith that Autumn was Jess Pugh’s horse, and while he had spoken to a vet the night before as the horse had ‘choke’, he didn’t know when she had last seen one before that.

He agreed for Inspector Smith to remove the rug and assess her. “I went into the stable and removed the rug, as I suspected, the horse was extremely underweight with all bones exposed, a clear thigh gap between her buttock cheeks, the rib cage was fully visible with a shelf along the top," she said. While waiting for a vet, they gave Autumn some hay and water, which she scoffed immediately before the vet had even arrived.

Another horse recently loaned by Fairy was also found to be in poor condition (Photo: RSPCA/Supplied)Another horse recently loaned by Fairy was also found to be in poor condition (Photo: RSPCA/Supplied)
Another horse recently loaned by Fairy was also found to be in poor condition (Photo: RSPCA/Supplied)
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The vet who assessed her told the inspector she "was about the thinnest horse he’d seen", and confirmed she was suffering. In the vet’s statement to the court, he said the mare’s body condition was 0.5 out of five, and that there was strong evidence to support she had many untreated parasites - which had contributed to her condition.

Autumn, who was formally owned by Kerry Pugh, was signed over to the RSPCA. She had a sore foot, and despite recovering some weight after a de-worming and a special feeding programme, the charity said her leg issue stemmed from her shoulder and was causing more suffering. She was put to sleep on veterinary grounds.

Inspector Smith also learned that another horse - Totti - being loaned to Fairy had been returned to its owner in North Wales just days earlier. She was able to track this horse down, and a vet confirmed she was also underweight and full of worms. Her weight loss was described as “severe” and would have occurred over a long period of time, the vet said.

In mitigation, the court heard that Fairy accepted full responsibility for his failure to make sure Totti was provided with vet care and food. It was heard that his involvement with Totti was relatively limited and another person was attending to the horses, but ultimately he had the overriding responsibility for her care.

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In mitigation for Jessica and Kerry Pugh it was heard that they had entrusted someone else to look after Autumn and feed her daily, but both admitted they should have taken responsibility themselves and checked on her.