Abused horses rescued from Buckinghamshire need homes

Minstrel one of the rescued horses Minstrel, one of the rescued horses now fit for re-homing

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New homes are needed for abused horses, ponies and donkeys rescued from a horse trader in Buckinghamshire who was jailed for cruel treatment.

More than 100 animals were found were found emaciated, dehydrated, starved and seriously ill at Spindle Farm in Amersham in January 2008.

Seventeen of the 36 horses rehabilitated by the RSPCA are now fit and healthy enough to be re-homed.

The other 20 will be available for re-homing soon.

James Gray, 46, of Amersham, was sentenced to a 26-week jail term when he was found guilty of animal welfare offences alongside his wife and three children.

But Gray absconded during a court hearing and when he was caught two weeks later was jailed for a further eight weeks.

'Terrible ordeal'

The RSPCA has spent £2.3m in legal fees, veterinary bills and caring for the animals.

The 36 horses are being looked after at various RSPCA animal centres across England and Wales.

Redwings Horse Sanctuary, World Horse Welfare and The Horse Trust are looking after the rest of the animals and are making separate arrangements for their care.

Rescued horse The Gray family all faced bans from keeping animals

RSPCA equine re-homing officer, Sally Learoyd, said: "These horses have been through a terrible ordeal and we need to find extra special permanent homes for them.

"We're looking for patient, experienced owners who have the facilities, time, knowledge and money needed to care for the horses for the rest of their lives.

"These horses are mostly youngsters, so potential adopters will need to be able to offer a long-term commitment.

"The horses are of the type you might expect to find on a dealer's yard - mostly cob and Shetland types."

Gray and his teenage son, James Gray Jnr, were found guilty of 11 charges each under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 after a trial last year.

Two of the charges were dropped when they launched an appeal following sentencing last June.

James Gray Jnr, 17, was acquitted on two further charges following the appeal, but all other convictions against him and his relatives were upheld.

Gray's wife, Julie, 42, and daughters, Jodie, 27, and Cordelia, 21, had each been found guilty of two animal welfare offences.

All of them were banned from keeping horses, ponies and donkeys following the neglect.

Gray was banned for life, with his wife, son and daughters each banned for 10 years.

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