Tarleton couple who admitted 'barbaric' pony cruelty spared jail

  • Published
Horse which cannot standImage source, RSPCA
Image caption,
RSPCA inspector Vicki McDonald said the "extreme level of neglect" she witnessed "will remain with me"

A couple who admitted keeping ponies in the worst conditions an RSPCA inspector had ever seen have been spared jail due to their "medical needs and age".

The RSPCA said Barbara and Jack Carter, 73 and 75, neglected "every basic aspect" of care for nine horses, eight of which had to be put down.

It said the Tarleton couple kept the ponies in a "barbaric" state.

Preston magistrates gave them 12-week suspended sentences and banned them from keeping animals for life.

A spokeswoman for the charity said the presiding magistrate had said the case crossed "the custody threshold", because of the "prolonged ill treatment and neglect", but had suspended the couple's sentences for three animal welfare offences because of their "medical needs and age".

Image source, RSPCA
Image caption,
The horses were kept in cramped conditions which they were believed to have never left in their lives

She said RSPCA inspector Vicki McDonald and Lancashire Police officers went to the couple's home on Bank Bridge in April 2021 after they had previously avoided inspections, "citing various reasons".

She said Jack Carter denied there were any ponies or horses on site, but "reluctantly agreed" to show Ms McDonald the stable behind the house.

The inspector said she was shocked by what she found in that stable and three others and had "never seen anything like it in my entire career".

She said one pony was "stood on top of deep rotting litter that had built up so much that it reached the top of the stable door".

"The pony was unable to fully stand up and its back protruded through a hole in the stable roof."

'Totally inexcusable'

She said the pony had "severely overgrown feet beyond anything I had seen before" and had hooves which "extended out and corkscrewed".

She then found three more horses with similar hooves and "patches of sore skin, most likely from having no option but to lie in their own filth".

"It was obvious that none of these ponies had been out of their stables or been seen by a farrier for a very considerable amount of time, if at all," she said.

All four ponies had to be put down.

Image source, RSPCA
Image caption,
All four horses had hooves which had become badly overgrown and "corkscrewed", the RSPCA inspector said
Image source, RSPCA
Image caption,
Ms McDonald said one pony "was unable to fully stand up and its back protruded through a hole in the stable roof"

A further five horses which belonged to the couple were then found at a different property on nearby Liverpool Road.

The RSPCA spokeswoman said they had access to food and water, but were in "a neglected state and had a range of health issues".

Four of them had to be put down, while the remaining horse was taken into care to be rehomed.

Ms McDonald said the "severe lack of care and level of suffering endured by these ponies was prolonged, wholly avoidable and totally inexcusable".

"It was heartbreaking to find them in such a neglectful state and for them, after such an awful life, to be beyond saving," she said.

"The extreme level of neglect I witnessed in this case is unlikely to ever be surpassed and will remain with me."

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