Councillors agreed the course of action, which was recommended by their Environmental Services department, at a committee meeting on Thursday night and also endorsed the recommendation that in the event that the person failed to accept a formal caution, Council would proceed to prosecute them.
Outlining the incident, a Council officer said the Animal Welfare Officer received a report on March 13 of a horse collapsed in a field and unable to stand at a location in the Broughshane Area and that “due to its condition” it was destroyed on site by a vet.
Two other horses at the same location were seized into the Council’s care as “they were both deemed to be suffering”, the committee was told.
A report presented to the committee revealed that the person had tended to the three horses in January and had subsequently viewed them from the road, which was approximately 400 yards away from them.
“It was confirmed that this was not sufficient as (the person) was unable to ascertain the condition of the horses”, the report read.
The Council officer went on to state that the person, who was the keeper of the horses at the time, had co-operated fully with the investigation and had fully admitted the offences, adding that, at the time of interview, “tragic personal circumstances which were directly attributable to the incident” were also outlined by the person.
The officer went on to reveal that legal opinion was sought “due to the seriousness of the admitted offences but also the tragic personal circumstances of the person responsible for the horses at the time of the alleged incident” to ascertain if it was in the public interest to prosecute.
It was concluded that it was not in the public interest to do so, the committee was told, and that it was the recommendation of the investigating officers that a Formal Caution be offered in respect of the admitted offences under the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011.
Councillors were told, too, that other stock had been inspected and found to be “in good condition”, that the person had since been reducing stock numbers and that the situation was being monitored by Council officers.