Slaidbuirn animal cruelty case under way

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The trial of a 56-year-old Slaidburn woman accused of animal cruelty involving horses and dogs has begun at Blackburn Magistrates’ Court.

Rachelle Peel faces 22 charges arising out of discoveries at her properties at Brookhouse Green Farm, Dalehead, Slaidburn, and at a barn in Knotts Lane, Tosside, in March 2013.

Opening the case for the RSPCA, Iain O’Donnell said representatives of the Horses and Pony Protection Association (HAPPA) attended Peel’s home at Brookhouse Farm following a report of a dead horse in a field. There was nobody in so the officer drove back to Slaidburn to phone to request the police and a vet.

Later that day, they went into a field at the farm and found the carcass of a horse. There were a number of living horses feeding from a large bale of hay next to the carcass.

Shortly after, the officials went into the farmhouse where there were a number of dogs. The police officer said the house smelled so strongly of urine his eyes were watering and there was dog faeces all over the floor. There were also dogs tethered outside which the prosecution say were in a poor condition.

The group was joined by an RSPCA inspector and, while they were on site, the police officer spoke to a farmer in a nearby field and, as a result, they went to the Knott Lane site, which comprised a field and large barn which was locked. The officer went to Brook House and returned with a key.

There were two living horses in the field and what appeared to be the remains of at least two more horses.

Inside the barn there were three horses living among the remains of four dead and decomposed horses.

“One of the dead horses was in the same pen as the living animals,” said Mr O’Donnell.

A number of horses were removed immediately and more the following day. One horse became upset in transit and suffered injuries which meant it had to be put down. Two other horses which were removed were put down in the days that followed.

RSPCA Inspector Kat Hamlyn attended the farms the day after the initial discoveries and organised the removal of more horses and dogs.

The case is proceeding.

More from the trial here