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Antrim donkey owner Steele banned from keeping animals after causing unnecessary suffering

Published 24/02/2016

11 Donkeys (not pictured) were found by animal welfare officers
11 Donkeys (not pictured) were found by animal welfare officers

A man has been banned from owning animals after his donkeys were unable to stand because their hooves were so overgrown.

Mr James Steele from Glenavy was recently found guilty of two charges under the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011. The Donkey Sanctuary is now caring for the two remaining donkeys.

These charges related to Mr Steele’s failure to make adequate provision for the welfare of six donkeys and causing unnecessary suffering to the donkeys, which ultimately had to be euthanized.

The charges led from a complaint received by Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council’s Animal Welfare Service on 26 June 2015 referring to donkeys with overgrown hooves, so severe that the some of the donkeys could not stand up. The donkeys were kept in fields in the Dundrod, Stoneyford area, Co Antrim

The Animal Welfare Service responded finding 11 donkeys, nine of which had severely overgrown hooves making it very painful and difficult for them to walk. After a full examination the Council’s vet stated that the condition of nine of the 11 donkeys was such that they should, in their own interest, be humanely destroyed.

The two remaining donkeys were seized on the vet’s advice as it was believed the donkeys were likely to suffer if circumstances did not change. The two donkeys were taken into the care of the Council’s Animal Welfare Service until a Disposal Order was granted by the Court allowing the Council to rehome the donkeys into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary, in Co Cork.

Mr Steele was found to be the owner of six of the donkeys and was subsequently convicted under the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011.

Mr Steele pleaded guilty to the offences and as a result, the Court ordered he pay costs of £1,059.98 and £166.

In addition to the fines, the judge gave Mr Steele a lifetime ban from owning animals, from keeping animals, from participating in the keeping of animals; and from being party to an arrangement under which that person is entitled to control or influence the way in which the animals are kept.

The local Donkey Welfare Advisor from The Donkey Sanctuary Jane Bruce, said: “We welcome the ban which we feel properly reflects the severity of the suffering inflicted on these animals.”

“We are grateful to the Council Animal Welfare Service for contacting us to help rescue the two surviving animals and give them a fresh chance at life. The donkeys (named Tinsel and Jingles) are now guaranteed a lifetime of care with The Donkey Sanctuary.”

Since coming to The Donkey Sanctuary, Tinsel and Jingles have undergone several veterinary treatments to address their neglected condition. Their treatment is on-going at this time.

The Donkey Sanctuary’s Adviser said: “This is a very sad case but we are very pleased that these lovely donkeys are now safe in our care. We hope that when or if they recover full health that they will be suitable to join our re-homing scheme and become part of someone’s loving family – which would be a wholly unique experience for these animals.”

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