Abused donkeys '˜not licensed to work on Blackpool's beaches'
Ten of the 29 donkeys at the centre of an abuse scandal, including two that had to be put down, were not licensed to be worked on the beach at Blackpool, the council said.
It is not known whether the animals were being put to work because regular checks on each individual donkey were not being carried out, but a review by the authority has now been launched that could see microchips regularly scanned by officers.
It comes after three people were convicted of abusing and neglecting the animals, which were seized from Fir Trees Farm in Salwick, near Preston.
The review, which is already underway, could also see council staff carrying out checks on the conditions in which the donkeys are kept.
Coun Adrian Hutton, the chairman of the licensing committee, said: “Every year the donkeys licensed for work in Blackpool are checked by an independent vet.
“Nineteen donkeys were brought to the inspection by (their owners) the Taylors in May, however when the raid took place 29 donkeys were seized.
“Therefore 10 hadn’t been seen by us, including the two that sadly had to be put down.”
Covert footage of the abuse, shot by concerned neighbours, revealed how the donkeys were punched in the face, with one, Bruce, targeted for a running kung-fu-style drop kick.
It led to the prosecution of Suzzana Taylor, 48, her daughter Grace Taylor, 18, both of Fir Trees Farm, and Suzzana’s ex-partner Andrew Lomas, 43, of Central Drive in Blackpool. Some 16 dogs were also rescued.
“This is a horrifying case and I echo the views of the public, who are quite rightly horrified by the actions of this family,” Coun Hutton added.
“As soon as we received this footage we showed it to the RSPCA on the same day and assisted them on the raid.
“Donkeys are a much-loved part of Blackpool with thousands of people enjoying traditional rides every year. The thought that anyone could treat these calm, beautiful animals in this way is heart-breaking.
“The owners of the donkeys that offer rides on the beach love their animals and take great pride in their appearance. I’m not aware that there has ever been a report of cruelty before and I hope it never happens again.
“Suzzana and Grace Taylor have not operated in Blackpool since the raid happened last September and nor will they again. They are not welcome in Blackpool and in my opinion they should never be allowed to own animals again.”
Suzzana Taylor admitted seven offences of inflicting blunt force trauma and physical violence to donkeys.
She was found guilty of 11 further offences of failing to provide them with proper welfare by caring for their feet, teeth, skin, and other equine illnesses, causing the donkeys pain and suffering.
She was also found guilty of three offences of causing unnecessary suffering to the Pomeranian dogs, which she bred at the £450,000 farm.
Her daughter was found guilty of 13 charges of cruelty to the donkeys and dogs.
Lomas admitted inflicting blunt force trauma and physical violence to the donkeys and was found guilty of 10 other cruelty charges.
One of the donkeys put down, Bethany, was underweight. The other, Floppy, had an untreated sarcoid growth.
Both Taylors had a licence to have donkeys on the beach and give rides to children.
Council staff routinely check donkey operators’ licenses on the beach, a council spokeswoman said, but whether each animal on the sand had passed its annual inspection was not.
That could now change in a bid to help stop any future abuse.
Grace Taylor was given a community order with 30 days’ rehabilitation, and must do 150 hours of unpaid work.
Her mother was given a 14-week jail term, suspended for a year. She must pay £500 costs. Lomas, who has previous convictions for violence, was also given a 14-week jail term, suspended for a year. He must do 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 costs.
All three were barred from keeping animals for three years.