Jail threat for neglect of five horses

A woman with a history of animal cruelty could face jail after RSPCA officers found five thoroughbred horses close to starvation at her Norfolk home.

A woman with a history of animal cruelty could face jail after RSPCA officers found five thoroughbred horses close to starvation at her Norfolk home.

At the time of the offence, Karen Woods, of The Paddocks, Ashby St Mary, near Loddon, was already banned from keeping dogs after two animals were found caged and emaciated at her home, Norwich Magistrates' Court heard today.

When a vet and RSPCA inspectors visited last September, they found seven horses kept in a barren field cluttered with barbed wire and other sharp metal objects. Five of them were starving and, despite temperatures of 26C, no water was provided.

Woods pleaded guilty to five charges of causing unnecessary suffering and two other charges were dropped. Similar charges against her husband Alex Woods were also dropped.

Jonathan Eals, prosecuting, told the court that in October, 2005, Woods was given a community punishment order and a compensation order of £2,000 and was banned from keeping dogs for two years.

He said: “The circumstances of that offence were very similar to these latest offences. The animals were caged and kept in poor conditions.

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“One year later these offences come to light. The horses were kept in very poor conditions and were inadequately fed. Five of the seven were suffering and their ribs were showing.

“This was in the height of the grass-growing season when one would normally expect horses to be approaching the peak of their condition.”

Although accepting responsibility for the horses' condit-ions, Woods argued that two of the bigger animals were eating food intended for the others.

But Mr Eals pointed out that one of these animals was of “average” weight while the other was “lean”, meaning that the food supply must still have been inadequate. All of the animals were suffering from worms.

The case was adjourned until April 26 pending pre-sentence reports and Woods was warned all sentencing options, including custody, were being kept open.

The horses will soon be offered for fostering by the International League for the Protection of Horses.