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Carmarthenshire woman who caused unnecessary suffering to 24 donkeys handed suspended prison sentence



A CARMARTHENSHIRE woman who caused the unnecessary suffering of 24 donkeys has been handed an 18 weeks prison sentence, suspended for two years.  

It follows a multi-agency operation in February 2021 where 72 donkeys and one horse were taken into possession by police on welfare grounds following veterinary examinations.

Zoie Celina Burton, 39, of Heol Llanelli, Pontyates, Llanelli, appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 20 September where she pleaded guilty to two offences under the Animal Welfare Act.

The offences were that she caused unnecessary suffering to 24 donkeys in that she failed to ensure adequate hoof care for them and she did not take steps to ensure the needs of 22 donkeys and a pony were met in that she did not provide them with a suitable environment. 

At sentencing yesterday (Tuesday, October 11) at Swansea Magistrates Court she was handed an 18 week prison sentence – suspended for two years – with an additional requirement to attend 25 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days. She was also banned from keeping equines for 10 years. Burton was ordered to pay £1,000 prosecution fees and a £128 victim surcharge and a deprivation order was made for all the animals. 

The court heard Dyfed-Powys Police obtained a warrant to enter Iscwm Farm, Pontantwn, Kidwelly in February 2021 – following concerns of the welfare of equines housed there.

The RSPCA-led operation was carried out in conjunction with The Donkey Sanctuary, World Horse Welfare, the British Horse Society, Bransby Horse Rescue and Welfare and two veterinary surgeons from Redwings. Two independent vets also attended the address along with Dyfed-Powys Police officers who executed the warrant. 

There were around 100 equines on site – and following veterinary examinations, 72 donkeys and one horse were taken into possession by police. One donkey which was examined by one of the vets on site, was put to sleep by the owner’s own vet on welfare grounds.

In a written statement presented to the court, RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben, said Burton knew there were some problems with hooves and said the farrier was coming the following day. 

He added: “Zoie Burton informed me that the farrier comes once a week and he was due the previous day but she had to cancel as she was not feeling well.” 

One of the attending vets in a statement said: “The severely overgrown hooves were very easy to see by a lay person and the owner should have sought both veterinary and farrier attention to this.

“A responsible horse and donkey owner should  be expected to provide farrier treatment every 4-8 weeks minimum.”

One skewbald female donkey – known for court purposes as S1 – had been found in a barn which was “an unsuitable and unsanitary environment for the donkey to be kept in”.

The vet statement added: “The donkey had overgrown hooves with the left fore hoof being deformed and twisted. 

“The hoof was chipped off and the laminae were exposed. There was white line disease and thrush in all four feet due to lack of adequate hoof care and lack of suitable environment.”

Another donkey – known as S4 – a chestnut roan female mammoth donkey – was also found in the same barn.

The vet statement said: “The right fore hoof was rocking laterally due to the overgrowth. The right hind was rocking backwards on to the heels due to the length of the foot. The left hind was curling up.”

This donkey who was weight shifting on its limbs when stood still was given pain relief to travel to the donkey sanctuary.

The donkeys were placed into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary and the pony – initially taken in by World Horse Welfare –  is now in the care of the RSPCA. 

Following more than a year of patient rehabilitation in the care of The Donkey Sanctuary, many of the donkeys are thriving, although some continue to require specialist care and treatment. Since their arrival, 20 foals have been born to the pregnant mares that were among the group.

Hannah Bryer, Head of Welfare at The Donkey Sanctuary said: “A moment that will forever stick in my mind on the day of the warrant was when the doors opened to one of the barns, and the faces of about 20 donkeys were staring back at us from the darkness.

“They were filthy and standing in dirty conditions. Some of the donkeys had very overgrown hooves and were lame. Cases like this are never easy to witness and are a stark reminder of the welfare challenges facing donkeys in Great Britain today.” 

Executive Director of Equine Welfare at Bransby Horses, Emma Carter, said: “Bransby Horses will always support other charities across the UK when there are large numbers of animals involved. In this case we were able to share our expertise and specialist equipment and work as part of a bigger team to achieve the best outcome. That said, it is always distressing and shocking to work on such large cases where multiple animals are involved.”

RSPCA inspector Keith Hobgen, who led the RSPCA prosecution case, praised all those involved in the rescue.

He said: “It is very sad to see a case like this where so many animals are suffering. It is a huge challenge looking after this number of equines and unfortunately in this case their needs were not met.

“We’re so grateful to the other equine organisations who supported this operation which was such a huge undertaking. It’s a powerful illustration of what we can achieve together for animal welfare.

“In particular we’d like to thank The Donkey Sanctuary for taking on the 71 donkeys and for their on-going care – alongside the 20 foals that were also born.

“Now the case has concluded they can be rehomed by our partners and we look forward to hearing about their new homes from them in the near future.”

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Carmarthenshire Archives’ new building officially opened



ON MONDAY, November 28, Cllr Rob Evans, Chair of Carmarthenshire County Council, unveiled a specially designed plaque to commemorate the official opening of the brand new Carmarthenshire Archives building.

The official opening was attended by year 6 pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, along with their Headteacher Mr Dylan Evans, who designed the plaque by compiling various artwork and sketches that are housed at the Archives.

Established in 1959, Carmarthenshire Archives is the local authority archive service for the County of Carmarthenshire and the new building is located at St Peter’s Street, Carmarthen. 

The service is home to our extensive collection of historic documents that date from the 13th century to the present day. The collection includes archives, maps, books, photographs, videos and sound recordings. It is the Archives’ mission to preserve and make its documents available for general study and research.

Admission to Carmarthenshire Archives is free and open to anyone who wishes to use the Council’s records. Most of its services are free, but we do charge for some extra services and help.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Cllr Gareth John commented:

“Congratulations to the pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, they have designed an excellent and appropriate plaque that is inspired by the treasure troves of our archives. It was wonderful to welcome them to the official opening so that they can see their work take pride of place at a building that holds great significance to us in Carmarthenshire. 

“This is a brand new and modern building that is fit to keep and protect our county’s most precious historical documents. 

“But of course, these documents are meant to be viewed and studied by school children, students, academics and anybody who has an interest in Carmarthenshire’s rich history; and this excellent facility provides the perfect space for people to come and view these treasures.”

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Llandeilo gas works to begin say Wales & West Utilities



WALES & West Utilities will shortly begin work to upgrade gas pipes in Llandeilo.

Wales & West Utilities has liaised with Carmarthenshire County Council to plan the work and it has been agreed that work will commence after the town has celebrated the Festival of Senses.

The £123,000 investment scheme, which is essential to keep the gas flowing safely to heat and power local homes and businesses, will begin in New Road on 21 November. This section of work will be complete before Christmas and Wales & West Utilities will return to the town next year to undertake further work in the Crescent Road area. Barring any engineering difficulties, work in the town will be complete by the end of February next year.

Wales & West Utilities Adam Smith is managing this gas pipe upgrade work. He said: “Working with the Council, we have planned this work to accommodate the needs of the town.

“While most of the gas network is underground and out of sight, it plays a central role in the daily lives of people across Llandeilo. Whether it’s heating your home, making the family dinner or having a hot bath, we understand how important it is for your gas supply to be safe and reliable and there when you need it.

“We know that working in areas like this is not ideal, but it really is essential to make sure we keep the gas flowing to homes and businesses in the area, and to make sure the gas network is fit for the future. We’ll have a team of gas engineers on site throughout the project to make sure our work is completed as safely and as quickly as possible while keeping disruption to a minimum.

“This work is essential to keep the gas flowing to local homes and businesses today, and to make sure the gas network is ready to transport hydrogen and biomethane, so we can all play our part in a green future.”

Our Customer Service Team is ready to take your call if you have any questions about our work. You can contact them on freephone 0800 912 2999.

Alternatively, you can contact us on Twitter @WWUtilities or

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we’ll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We’ll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.

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Police appeal following theft of items from Home Bargains Crosshands



OFFICERS from Dyfed Powys Police have confirmed that they are investigating the theft of items, including a Christmas Nutcracker Ornament valued at £129.99, from the Home Bargains store in Crosshands, Carmarthenshire.

The theft occurred at about 12:40pm on Tuesday, 27th September 2022.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.

They would like to identify the people in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.

Anyone who knows who the people are, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police.

This can also be done either online at:, by emailing or phoning 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DPP/2006/27/09/2022/02/C

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting

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