Horses and donkeys found on a property were so hungry they were chewing on fenceposts and gnawing bark off a hedge, an Irish court has been told.
A donkey was found dead on the Sligo property of James Curley.
A man has been remanded in custody in Ireland while awaiting sentence on three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a horse and two donkeys.
James Patrick Curley, of Cooga, Easkey, in County Sligo, appeared in Sligo District Court and pleaded guilty to the three counts, as well as an additional charge of allowing a carcass to remain unburied.
Curley claimed he was relying on his 14-year-old son, who was in court, to care for the animals in question.
Judge Kevin Kilrane indicated that he felt that Curley was showing no remorse for his actions. He ordered that he be remanded in custody until Thursday when he will be sentenced.
The case began when Inspector Kevin McGinley, with the Irish SPCA, responded to a report from a concerned member of the public on February 4, 2010, in Loganima, Culleens, in County Sligo.
He found the carcass of a donkey, a further eight donkeys in poor condition and four horses, one of whom was thin.
Some animals also had hoof problems and skin conditions.
There was no sign of a water source or of supplementary feeding.
The animals had been chewing the bark from hedges and even eating at fence posts due to hunger.
Curley was identified as the owner of the animals and he surrendered the eight donkeys and one horse to the care of the ISPCA.
The animals were removed with the assistance of the Sathya Sai Sanctuary.
Unfortunately, one donkey was euthanised on veterinary advice later that day while another two aborted foals at later dates.
McGinley said: "We are pleased with the dim view that the court has taken in this case. Animal cruelty is a serious crime and the punishments for those responsible should reflect this fact".