Man jailed after 170 animals found in poor conditions on farm

A man has been jailed for 19 weeks and given a lifetime ban from keeping animals
A man has been jailed for 19 weeks and given a lifetime ban from keeping animals

A man has been jailed after 170 animals were found living in poor conditions on a Surrey farm in one of the UK's biggest ever animal rescue operations.

The Surrey man was sentenced at Guildford Crown Court on 15 October to 19 weeks in prison and disqualified from keeping animals for life.

The court heard how he failed to meet the needs of 171 animals including 131 horses, 33 dogs, two alpacas and five birds.

Surrey Police executed a warrant at the Ripley farm in January 2019 as part of an investigation led into concerns for the welfare of horses at the site.

Rescuers who arrived at the scene discovered two starving ponies, suffering from cyathostominosis, a disease caused by parasites, and a collapsed goat.

In court, the owner admitted to failing to provide them with enough nutritious food or seek vet treatment for them.

All three animals were put to sleep at the scene on the advice of vets to prevent them from further suffering.

Herds of ponies, many riddled with worms, were living out in fields with hazardous metal and broken fencing sticking up from the thick mud.

Inside two barns were pens full with donkeys, goats, alpacas and ponies; many of them standing on top of 2ft-3ft of months worth of waste and faeces. Many were skinny and had underlying health conditions.

Dozens of dogs - some heavily pregnant and others with puppies in tow - were found chained and tethered on the filthy yard, while others were shut inside tiny cramped cages or makeshift kennels.

The RSPCA's Special Operations Unit (SOU) said the rescue mission was a huge multi-agency attempt which was the culmination of weeks of planning and evidence gathering.

SOU case officer Kirsty Withnall said: "In total, there were 100 staff from different agencies working on the case to help round up the animals.

"It took almost 12 hours on the day to assess all of the animals, load them into horse boxes and animal ambulances, and move them off-site; making it one of the biggest coordinated rescue missions the UK has ever seen."

PC Hollie Iribar from Surrey Police added that it was one of the most difficult cases she had ever seen.

"I'm glad that this heartbreaking case has seen a resolution in the courts, and that the animals involved were rescued and given a second chance at a happy and healthy life."