Horses euthanised after alleged animal suffering seizure

Animal suffering trial continues in Lowestoft

Animal suffering trial continues in Lowestoft - Credit: PA NEWS

A court has heard how two horses were put to sleep after being taken away from a Suffolk woman accused of mistreating animals.

Veterinary surgeon, Haslet Andrew Williamson said the decision to euthanise two of the ponies removed from Marylin Read’s property was made after seeking a second opinion.

A total of 28 horses and 24 dogs were taken from Home Farm, in Benhall, Saxmundham, last May. Another five horses were taken from a field also owned by Read in Kiln Lane.

Mr Williamson yesterday told Lowestoft Magistrates’ Court that he used a scale of one to nine when assessing the body condition of the miniature Shetlands he examined at World Horse Welfare following the seizure.

He described a number of the horse as “emaciated”, having lost palpable fat deposits and lean muscle tissue.


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One horse, which he gave the lowest condition score, also had “unpleasant and significant” skin lesions, including a long scar on the tail head which had “been there for some time” and was infected.

However, the conditions of other horses were considered ‘average’ or ‘fair’, with no significant abnormalities and unremarkable laboratory results.

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In general, said Mr Williamson, the horses’ condition and behaviour improved as they were fed. One pony’s locking hind stifle joint, which caused it to take “one normal step in every 20” was resolved within weeks of being at World Horse Welfare. “The problem was pretty much exclusively down to body condition,” he said.

The court was shown video of another horse walking with an abnormal gate. Mr Williamson said it was also suffering so badly from a respiratory disease, known as recurrent airway obstruction, that the horse could be heard wheezing without a stethoscope.

Mr Williamson said the decision to put this and a second horse down, and to remove a third horse’s eye to prevent a tumour spreading, was made after seeking a second opinion from an equine specialist.

He said the vet who previously examined the horses had been asked to advise Read to agree that surgery or euthanasia would be most appropriate. “Permission was not forthcoming,” he added.

Defending Read, Nigel Weller asked why Mr Williamson had not investigated the background of the animals. He replied: “I was asked to examine the animals from a clinical standpoint based on the animal in front of me.”

Mr Weller suggested that a horse being thin was not necessarily a sign of suffering. Mr Williamson said he was confident that a horse with a body condition of one or two was suffering from malnutrition. But Mr Weller said the horses’ behaviour should therefore have been affected, and asked why Mr Williamson had recorded only some as appearing “dull”. He replied that a lot of horses raised their level of behaviour when handled.

The court also heard a statement from farrier, John Blake, who said that all the horses needed treatment. Two had, in his professional opinion, been suffering for at least four months due to the standard of farrier care they had received.

The trial continues.

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