#TheList donkey ride operator Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Wheeler, born c. 1977, of Haydn Road, Liverpool L14 – let his horse die slowly and painfully from poisoning
Ronnie Wheeler admitted three charges of animal neglect at Liverpool Magistrates Court.
Wheeler left his horse Oscar grazing in a field in Fazakerley which contained the poisonous weed ragwort – which is deadly to horses – despite being warned by Liverpool council to remove it.
The RSPCA were called to the field on August 6, 2018, after receiving reports from members of the public who were concerned about the horse’s welfare.
When inspector Joanne MacDonald arrived at the scene with a veterinary surgeon they could see the horse was staggering around and collapsing.
They realised he was blind, was struggling to stand and was unable to swallow.
The vet decided Oscar needed to be put to sleep to end his suffering and a post-mortem examination confirmed he had been poisoned by ragwort after being exposed to it for many weeks or even months.
The vet also described Oscar as having a low body score for his physical condition, and also revealed a significant worm burden.
The court heard two months before, on June 15, the council had sent a letter to Wheeler urging him to remove the weed which in some places had grown to three feet tall.
Inspector MacDonald said: “It was an awful case to deal with as poor Oscar was clearly suffering. He was collapsing and the ragwort had caused his blindness which meant he was walking into things and was clearly in a distressed state.
“To make matters worse Wheeler had been told previously to remove the ragwort by the council but he had failed to do this.
“Responsible horse owners should know ragwort is damaging to the horse’s liver when eaten. The toxic effect builds up over time, causing irreparable damage.”
Sentencing: jailed for 12 weeks; ordered to pay £786 costs and a £115 victim surcharge. Banned from keeping equines for 10 years.