Fine, ban for ragwort poisoning in pony


A woman in Scotland who allowed her pony to live in a field overrun with the poisonous weed ragwort has been banned from keeping horses for five years.

June Rankin, 48, of Polmont, Falkirk, was sentenced in the town’s sheriff court late last month following an investigation by the Scottish SPCA.

Rankin admitted failing to provide adequate nutrition and a suitable diet for her 14-year-old pony named Seamus.

She also pleaded guilty to failing to protect him from injury, suffering and disease and provide him with a suitable living environment. In addition to the ban, Rankin was fined £640.

Seamus was found to be suffering from liver failure, caused by ragwort poisoning, and vets had no option but to euthanise him.

Inspector Nicola Liddell, commenting on the investigation and court case, said: “Seamus was severely emaciated when he was found, with a body score of just 1.5 out of 5. His hip bones, ribs and spine were clearly visible from a distance.

“All four hooves were also overgrown and in poor condition.

“The grass in the field where he was kept was so short there was little to no grazing and there was a high percentage of growing ragwort florets.

“Ragwort is a weed which can be particularly dangerous to horses, with symptoms often only appearing after a long period of consumption, by which time liver damage has occurred.

“A biopsy confirmed that Seamus was suffering from liver failure and, sadly, the veterinary advice was that the kindest and only humane option was to put him to sleep.”

Liddell continued: “Owners have a duty to remove their animals from fields which are overrun with ragwort until the ground has been cleared and pasture has returned.

“In my opinion, this tragic case could have been avoided entirely had Rankin done so.”


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