British woman faces court as 16 thoroughbreds die in Spain, with 36 more facing death sentence
EXCLUSIVE By Tony Jefferies and
Jon Clarke in Medina Sidonia
A BRITISH woman could face animal cruelty charges in Spain after 16 horses allegedly died of starvation.
Sue Jenkins allegedly allowed a further 36 thoroughbreds get so ill they now face a compulsory death sentence from the Spanish authorities.
The horses – some prized Trakehners worth up to 15,000 euros apiece – have been kept in appalling condition on scrubland near Medina Sidonia, Cadiz.
But their plight only came to light when a concerned neighbour contacted animal welfare groups saying he was “sick of seeing dead horses”.
The British woman, who is understood to have lived in Spain for a number of years, could now face prosecution for cruelty.
Guardia Civil animal welfare arm Seprona is investigating the case, while vets from the Junta de Andalucia were called in to save the remaining animals.
It has been claimed that she failed to pay a bill for feed and that no vet had been in to check the animals for months.
A spokesman for animal charity Colectivo Acma (CACMA) Antonio Moreno said: “The situation is chaotic. When we got there one horse had just died while a colt was on the verge of death.
“Many other horses were so ill they were unable to stand. It was horrific.
“We have filed two separate denucias against Mrs Jenkins and the police and OCA are investigating.”
To add to the tragedy, under an Andalucian law all horses seized in such cases must be put down.
Animal activists are lobbying hard to allow the horses to be rescued and given new owners or repatriated to the stud in Britain where they were bred.
But so far they are meeting a brick wall as the relevant Junta department is dragging its heels. The horses cannot be moved.
According to activists, the British owner claimed that the 52-strong herd – worth more than half a million euros – died through drinking salinated water or eating hay containing thorns.
But one of the vets who first examined the horses when the police arrived at the estate confirmed to activists that they died of starvation.
“There were half a dozen vets at the farm when it was visited and a couple told me in no uncertain terms that the horses died of starvation,” said Moreno.
One local British neighbour said the woman had not paid feed bills for deliveries of hay.
Another neighbour claimed that vets had not checked the animals for months because the owner had not paid her account.
A vet who treated a number of Jenkins’ horses in January and February told her that they were “too thin” and not getting enough food.
“After one of them died I was diplomatic but told her in my honest opinion they were not getting enough food,” he told the Olive Press. “I wish I had notified the authorities then.”
Donations and charity funds are being used to feed and treat the remaining 36 horses including Trakehners – renowned for their friendly nature.
The vet responsible confirmed to animal activist Antonio Moreno that all the horses were in recovery.
The British neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “Once the details became known there were lots of offers of help – feed, money for vets bills, transport to get the horses away from the finca and even land for them to recover on.
“But because the paperwork from the Junta is so slow they can’t be moved.
“This woman has mistreated the horses and responsibility has been taken away from her but they’re still on her land. It’s ridiculous.”
While police were unable to confirm the investigation, a vet working on the farm for Jenkins, confirmed that vets from OCA were visiting the estate “two or three times a week”.
“The investigation is continuing,” he told the Olive Press. “Water samples have been taken and the police are regularly being kept informed.”
When approached last night Jenkins denied all the allegations. She said: “None of the horses died from malnutrition. First there was the water problem and after we sorted that out I had a delivery of hay contaminated with small thorns.
“It was impossible to detect but when the animals ate it they got a mouthful of thorns and couldn’t eat.”
Jenkins, who claims to be a qualified horse nutritionalist, said: “I have saved my horses, nobody else. No one has paid any vets fees or for any food and as far as I’m aware there’s no threat of prosecution.
“I’m devastated at what’s happened and extremely angry at these false claims.”