A CUMINESTOWN woman was sentenced to 200 hours community service for mistreating horses at Banff Sheriff Court last week.
Valerie Pritchard (66), was also banned for life from keeping animals.
Pritchard had been convicted of four breaches of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 for causing unnecessary suffering, and one charge under s24 of that Act for failing to ensure the welfare of animals.
She was also convicted of a breach of regulation 5(1) of the Animal By-Products (Scotland) Regulations 2003.
The offences took place at Mains of Green Farm, Cuminestown, Aberdeenshire in 2009.
Area Procurator Fiscal Tom Dysart, who leads COPFS on wildlife and environmental crime, said: “This case involved an appalling mistreatment of a large number of animals, some of which had to be put down as a result of the extreme neglect they had suffered.
“Thankfully, cases as severe as this are rare.
“I hope the conviction of Valerie Pritchard will remind owners of their responsibility to care for animals appropriately and that it will act as a warning to those who abuse animals that they will face prosecution.
“Welfare laws exist to protect animals and Scotland’s prosecutors will take robust action against anyone who chooses to flout these laws.
“I commend the work of my colleague Alasdair Fay who prosecuted this case and also the assistance of the World Horse Welfare charity and the SSPCA in helping to gather the evidence necessary to secure this conviction.”
Commenting on the outcome, Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “We are delighted that Pritchard has been found guilty of causing horses unnecessary suffering and failing to provide for their welfare.
“This was a sickening case of neglect, with many of the horses found either dead or dying.
“Pritchard allowed this situation to arise through extremely poor herd management with mares and stallions mixed together and many young foals at foot and in an emaciated condition.
“Her horses had experienced so little human contact that they had become wild and were very difficult to handle or catch.
“We are very glad that 25 horses were removed and have since gone on to receive the care and attention they required from World Horse Welfare.
“We are especially pleased that we were able to bring criminal proceedings against Pritchard which has led to her being banned from keeping animals for life.
“A life ban is the ultimate sanction against animal cruelty and entirely fitting in this case.
“This was a particularly complex investigation and we would like to thank the procurator fiscal for their determination in pursuing this case.”