A father and son from Northern Ireland have been jailed for abusing 66 animals including ten donkeys after a successful prosecution supported by The Donkey Sanctuary.
Robert and Conor McAleenan from County Antrim were sentenced to 20 months and 22 months in prison, respectively, at Coleraine County Court on 2nd December after pleading guilty to 17 animal cruelty offences.
Robert McAleenan will serve four and a half months, while his son Conor will serve seven. Both have been banned from keeping animals for 25 years.
Sixty six horses, ponies and donkeys were rescued from their premises off Lisnevenagh Road in November 2011. They were starving and living in squalor. Emaciated donkeys were found fighting for survival alongside the carcasses of dead horses.
Michael Crane, Head of Welfare at The Donkey Sanctuary, said: “We welcome the lengthy sentence which reflects the appalling suffering inflicted on these animals. The donkeys were emaciated, with no food or water and no clean bedding. They were suffering from serious health problems and forced to live alongside the carcasses of nine dead horses.
“No animal should have to live in conditions like that. We are grateful to the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) for contacting us to help rescue these animals and to give them a fresh chance at life. The donkeys are now guaranteed permanent refuge with The Donkey Sanctuary.”
The Donkey Sanctuary’s Welfare Advisers worked with the PSNI, Redwings Horse Sanctuary and Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary to remove the animals to safety.
Prosecution witnesses condemned the cruelty. Nic de Brauwere, Head of Welfare at Redwings Horse Sanctuary said the suffering was “as severe as it is possible to encounter”. The manager of Crosskennen Lane Animal Sanctuary said it was “the worst case of horse cruelty we have ever witnessed.” PSNI Sergeant Allison Liddle said the case was “one of the most harrowing” she had ever seen.
Since their rescue, seven of the donkeys have made a full recovery at The Donkey Sanctuary’s farms in Devon and two of them have started a new life with a foster home in Surrey. One young donkey was put to sleep with colic after the rescue. Four horses were put to sleep at the scene.
The nine rescued donkeys have been named Cookie, Crumble, Bumble, Jester, Morgan, Dominick, Maddox, Bryce and Jools.
Annie Brown, General Farms Manager at The Donkey Sanctuary, said: “This is a very sad case but we are very pleased that these lovely donkeys are now safe in our care and in the care of our loving foster homes.”