A YEADON man has been banned from keeping animals for life.

The disqualification order for James Garner Smith was issued when he was sentenced at Harrogate Magistrates' Court on Thursday, March 8.

At a previous hearing he had been found guilty, in his absence, of causing unnecessary suffering to two donkeys being kept off West Field Lane at Arkendale, Harrogate.

Smith, 68, of Westfield Avenue, Yeadon was found to have failed to provide:

*Adequate hoof care to the animals, to the extent they had difficulty walking

*Necessary lice treatment

*A supply of fresh and clean drinking water.

RSPCA Inspector Claire Mitchell said: "It should have been obvious that these donkeys were suffering.

"All four hooves on both of the donkeys were very overgrown and they were finding it difficult to walk as a result.

"They had a lice infestation and there was no drinkable water available to them."

The plight of the donkeys, named Rita and Sue, was raised with the Donkey Sanctuary by a member of the public last year.

The charity visited the animals and then got in touch with the RSPCA to flag up their concerns.

Notices were left at the field where the donkeys were living three times but the their circumstances did not improve so they were seized by the police, on veterinary advice, in June, 2017.

The animals have been looked after by The Donkey Sanctuary pending the outcome of the case, and have now passed into the charity's ownership as part of the sentencing.

As well as his lifetime disqualification - which can be appealed after five years - Smith was also sentenced to a four-month community order.

That is to take the form of a 7pm till 7am curfew, and he was also ordered to pay costs of £750 plus an £85 victim surcharge.

Head of Welfare at The Donkey Sanctuary, Hannah Bryer, said: "Happily with the support of vets, farriers and grooms, both donkeys have made a full recovery.

"One of them was very shy and nervous of people when she first came to us but her grooms have been working hard to improve her confidence and her trust in humans is slowly growing.

"Owning donkeys can be a hugely rewarding experience and a wonderful privilege, however they require caring and compassionate management to ensure they lead healthy and enriched lives.

"Sadly, despite being easy to remedy, lack of appropriate hoof care remains one of the most common welfare issues faced by donkeys in Great Britain today.

"We are grateful to the combined efforts of the RSPCA, North Yorkshire Police and all involved in investigating this case.

"The disqualification order imposed by the court serves to protect the welfare of donkeys in the future and, thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we are pleased to provide both donkeys with a safe and secure future."