The owner of a horse sanctuary has been banned from keeping equines for a decade after she admitted causing suffering to horses in her care.
Sandra Jane Kaverneng-Stolp (commonly known as Sandra Stolp), of Derwen Road, Pontardawe in Swansea, pleaded guilty to four Animal Welfare Act offences relating to 22 horses at Swansea Magistrates’ Court yesterday (15 February).
A total of 137 horses from the Whispering Willows sanctuary – run by Stolp – were signed over to horse charities in November 2019 after concerns were raised about the condition of some of the horses. They were found at sites in Alltwen Isaf Farm in Pontardawe, at Gowerton and in Llanelli over a number of days that month.
The RSPCA-led operation was carried out in conjunction with World Horse Welfare, Redwings, the British Horse Society, the Horse Trust, Blue Cross, Bransby Horses, the Mare & Foal Sanctuary and the Donkey Sanctuary, in an “incredible illustration” of what can be achieved together for animal welfare.
Veterinary statements confirm many of the horses were “in poor bodily condition” – with estimates from a surgeon suggesting some equines in Stolp’s care had been suffering for as long as six months. Photographs shown to the court show hips, spine and ribs clearly visible on some of the horses.
Unfortunately, two of the horses found during the operation, to which charges relate, had to be put to sleep soon afterwards due to welfare problems. One was found with a high heart rate, low body temperature and with the tail crusted in large volumes of dried faecal material, while another – who was initially found lame and reluctant to move – was later unable to rise despite rehabilitation efforts and had to be put to sleep nine days after being found.
Stolp, 54, admitted in court that her failure to adequately explore and address the poor condition or injury of 22 horses led them to suffer unnecessarily – contrary to section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act.
At sentencing, she was banned from keeping all horses for ten years, told to pay £1,000 in costs, a £90 victim surcharge and must serve a 20-week curfew in which she must not leave her home between 9pm and 6am. She must also wear a tag for the duration of the curfew.
RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben said: “Looking after this number of horses properly is a huge challenge and sadly when things went wrong, these horses suffered the consequences.
“Vets were clear that the conditions many of these horses were kept in was not appropriate with unsuitable grazing. Twenty-two animals suffered because they were not given the care they needed by this sanctuary.
“We’re so grateful to the other equine organisations who supported this partnership operation. It’s an incredible illustration of what we can achieve together for animal welfare.
“It was a huge undertaking; and their assistance with boarding, transportation and administration has been invaluable in helping these equines in their hour of need. Thankfully, it has meant many of these horses will get a second chance of happiness.”
The court heard in mitigation Stolp was struggling financially to care for the more than 100 horses in her care.
Many of the horses removed from the sites have since been rehomed.
Lifeline for cockle-gathers could be on the way after Llangennech rail crash
Plaid Cymru MS Helen Mary Jones has raised the impact on cockle-gathers of the Llangennech derailment last year.
She received an assurance from the First Minister that the Welsh Government was looking at way to help the cockle industry.
Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy, Transport and Tackling Poverty Minister, Helen Mary Jones MS said:
“In the Senedd I congratulated the public services for the way they co-operated around the clean-up after the Llangennech derailment, which, so far, has been very successful. I demanded a life-line scheme to help the cockle gathers.
“I raised with the First Minister issues for two groups of businesses particularly badly affected in the short-term by the derailment.
“One of those was the very important cockle-gathering industry, the other, of course, were farmers who graze animals on those low-lying banks by the river.
“There has been a request for the Welsh Government to consider whether some interim financial support might be made available to the cockle gatherers and the grazers while responsibility for the derailment and long-term compensation becomes a possibility. Many of these are small businesses; they operate on quite low margins and currently in difficult circumstances.
“The First Minister emphasised he was aware of the impact on cockle gatherers and particularly that they were unable to carry out their normal activities while the level of environmental contaminants in the estuary were being surveyed.
“Plaid Cymru believes it must be the polluter in the end that must pay for the damage that has been caused, but the rail accident investigation branch work is not coming to a conclusion quickly.
“The Welsh Government is expecting to receive advice in the next few days whether or not it is possible to devise a scheme through the Welsh Government in which some interim assistance to those industries could be supplied.
“The Welsh Government is keen to obtain that advice from officials in case it is possible, before the rail accident investigation is completed, so they can offer some assistance to those who have been most directly affected.”
The environmental impact of the Llangennech derailment last year was amongst the most significant in Wales since the Sea Empress disaster of 25 years ago.
Monitoring of the site and surrounding area, which includes four sites of special scientific interest and a special area of conservation will continue for many years to come.
UK Budget must take crucial steps to help recovery
LLANELLI Labour representatives are urging the UK Government to take the necessary steps to begin recovery and secure prosperity across all parts of the UK.
Llanelli’s MP Nia Griffith and MS Lee Waters set out Wales’ priorities ahead of the UK Budget on Wednesday March 3 2021.
They are urging the UK Government to make a series of commitments to Wales, including:
• sustaining UK-wide business support
• delivering welfare and taxation measures to support the most vulnerable
• redressing the historical under investment in Wales on research and development and rail infrastructure
• providing an injection of funding to support the transition to Net Zero carbon emissions
• providing guarantees for Wales’ specific funding pressures
Speaking ahead of the UK Budget announcement, Nia Griffith MP reiterated her calls for continued business support for those on the lowest of incomes. She said:
“It is vital that the Job Retention Scheme and Self Employed Income Support Scheme are retained – not threatened with being removed at the eleventh hour and putting livelihoods at risk. A delay to repayments should also be introduced for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme with recognition given to the self-employed who are facing deferred bills.”
“It is also vital that the £20 per week increase to Universal Credit is maintained and put on a permanent basis, making it available to people in receipt of legacy means-tested benefits. More than 300,000 families in Wales have benefitted from an extra £1,000 a year as a result of the uplift and removing this now would have a detrimental and long-lasting effect on thousands of households across Wales.”
Lee Waters MS said:
“The UK Government should continue to take advantage of historically low interest rates to invest in Wales’ infrastructure and public services. Particularly on rail, where we have been underfunded to the tune of billions since the start of devolution, this is the moment where Rishi Sunak can demonstrate his commitment to ‘levelling up’ all four nations of the UK.”
“This budget is a chance to hardwire a greener, fairer way of doing things into our recovery from Coronavirus. We are ambitious about our target of being Net Zero carbon by 2050, and averting the climate crisis which is increasingly affecting Wales through flooding. But to make that transition, we need a step change from the UK Government’s budget that allows us to invest in renewable energy and green jobs.”
Search for Susan Smith continues
THE search for missing Susan Smith is now in it’s third day. She was last seen on Saturday (Feb 27), walking in the Kidwelly area.
Speaking to The Herald, a police spokesperson said: “We are continuing to search for Susan Smith who has been reported missing.”
“The search is continuing today with specialist police officers making house to house enquiries in the Kidwelly, St Ishamels, Ferryside and surrounding areas.
Sergeant Fiona Phillips said: “It is important that we build a picture of Susan’s movements after she was last seen on Saturday and I would appeal to anyone who believes they may have seen her to contact police.”
Susan was last seen 1.30pm Saturday, February 27 2021, walking in the Carmarthen Bay Holiday Village, Kidwelly area. She is known to walk along the beach to St Ishmaels and Ferryside.
She is described as approximately 5ft2 inches tall, petite with shoulder length blonde hair and believed to be wearing black jeans, a black fleece type jacket and navy and grey walking boots.
Any who has seen Susan or anyone who may have information that could help the search is asked to contact Dyfed-Powys Police, quoting reference 285 of Saturday 27th February.
Police can be contacted either online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908
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