An electrician’s neglect, which led to the death of five llamas on his holding, followed a Christmas split from his wife, a court heard this week.
Harrogate magistrates heard on Tuesday how John Shaw’s 13 llamas were found by RSPCA and DEFRA officials in an emaciated state in a field at Thistle Hill on the outskirts of Knaresborough in February,
Some were little more than skin and bone, said RSCPA prosecutor Tanya Forret when 41-year-old Shaw pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering leading to death and two counts of not ensuring the needs of llamas were met by not providing a suitable diet and failing to protect them from pain, suffering and disease.
Miss Forret said some of the llamas died and others had to be put down by vets who found them in a frozen field with scant grazing, an empty ring-feeder and a dilapidated shelter without bedding. Those which survived had since been re-homed.
Shaw, of Littondale Avenue, Knaresborough, who had a conviction five years ago for shooting a dog which was worrying his goats, had willingly signed them over and no longer cared for any livestock.
Miss Forret said the llamas’ suffering had been put down largely to the non-provision of a wholesome diet. All were emaciated or severely emaciated, with some described as being little more than skin and bone.
Shaw, who had owned them for four years, told investigators: ‘‘I have not been able to afford to give them the extra feed they need and due to personal circumstances have had to get someone else to feed them.’’
He said the animals had not had sufficient food since Christmas because he had worked for only three days and because a horse and two donkeys in the field with them bullied them away from what food there was.
In mitigation Peter Minnikin said Shaw had for a decade kept goats, pigs, donkeys, horses and sheep as well as llamas without problem. The charges stemmed from the breakdown of his marriage after a falling-out over Christmas which led to him moving in with relatives.
All the money he earned went on feeding the llamas, which had hay but he could not afford solid food. Efforts to sell them had failed even though he would have taken any offer to get them off his hands.
Shaw was jailed for 12 weeks with the sentence suspended for a year. He was ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £3,050.40 costs. A 10-year ban on keeping animals was also imposed.