Suspended jail term for horse owner in cruelty case

One of the horses found at Armagh Road, Keady. INPT05
One of the horses found at Armagh Road, Keady. INPT05

A woman who pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to 15 horses in her care has been given a suspended prison sentence and banned from keeping horses for two years.

Orla Shortt, of Granemore Park, Keady, appeared at Armagh Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

One of the malnourished horses. INPT05

One of the malnourished horses. INPT05

An animal welfare investigation was launched in 2013 after a complaint was made to Armagh City and District Council regarding the condition in which horses owned by Ms Shortt were being kept.

Animal welfare officers, assisted by veterinary surgeons and supported by PSNI officers, examined more than 100 horses in Ms Shortt’s care when they visited a property at Armagh Road, Keady.

According to the council, some horses were found to be malnourished, without food or water and kept in filthy conditions. Some 15 were certified as suffering by the veterinary surgeons.

The case of animal cruelty was brought against the defendant by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council under the provisions of the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.

She received a three-month sentence suspended for two years, was banned from keeping horses for two years and was also ordered to pay costs of £250.

The council’s head of environmental health said, “It is upsetting to hear of cases of the mistreatment of animals. However, I am gratified that Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council continues to adhere to a rigorous enforcement policy to ensure full compliance of regulatory requirements.

“I would urge the public to be vigilant and report any suspected cases of mistreatment or cruelty to domestic animals and horses to our Animal Welfare Team.

“Complaints are investigated thoroughly and where necessary formal action is taken, which may include the issuing of Improvement Notices or, where appropriate, the seizure of animals and prosecution.”

Members of the public who are aware of any animal being neglected or abused are asked to contact the Animal Welfare Team on 028 3751 5800 or email animalwelfare@armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk