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Horse owner banned after not clearing ragwort

An owner who failed to get his horse treated for ragwort poisoning has been banned from keeping the animals for 10 years.


Alfie Southall, of Lye, allowed his 16-year-old piebald mare to graze on a field in Timber Lane, Stourport, which was covered in the weed, Kidderminster Magistrates Court heard.

She was in extremely poor condition and staggering when found by RSPCA officials in June last year. A vet was called out and diagnosed severe liver damage. She had to be put to sleep on site.

Magistrates were told a later post mortem had revealed ragwort to be the cause of the liver damage.

Southall, 42, of Thorns Road, was given notice by the RSPCA to clear the ragwort and to address some welfare concerns involving other horses.

This advice was later followed but the horses had already lived among the ragwort for some time.

Southall pleaded guilty to failing to protect an animal from pain, suffering, injury or disease, failing to explore and address the symptoms of ragwort poisoning and causing a poisonous substance to be taken by a protected animal.

He had previously admitted a further offence of failing to ensure his horses had access to fresh drinking water. Alongside the ban, Southall was also ordered to carry out 250 hours' unpaid work and pay £1,000 towards costs.

RSPCA inspector Suzi Smith said: "Ragwort can result in an extremely painful death for horses. Southall said he knew of the dangers of ragwort for horses but saw no problem in continuing to let his horses graze on it."

In many cases eating ragwort can be fatal to animals.

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