An animal rescue charity in Swanley has defended itself against “slanderous” accusations that its staff mistreated animals in their care.

Second Chance Animal Rescue (SCAR) took in three donkeys belonging to Tracey Whiskin in March 2017.

After Tracey suffered a stroke a family friend, who refused to speak or be named when News Shopper contacted him, suggested she give the donkeys to the charity because she could no longer give them the attention they needed.

But when Ms. Whiskin visited them a year later on March 29, she found them in poor health with overgrown hooves.

Alice Whiskin, Tracey’s daughter, told News Shopper: “My mum and some of her friends went to check up on them.

“She noticed one of the donkeys had his head down and couldn’t walk.

"They were emotionally wrecked."

After demanding the charity release the donkeys back to her, Ms. Whiskin took them to be treated by a vet who found traces of frostbite on the donkeys’ ears.

One of the donkeys, Albert, showed signs of ‘seedy toe’ which is a condition that causes dirt to become trapped in the hooves.

Upon learning about the damage to the horses, Ms Whiskin’s friends took to Facebook to complain about the treatment the donkeys had received.

But staff at SCAR insist these accusations are untrue, and that the donkeys were never officially ‘signed over’ to their care – so they were never responsible for paying for their upkeep.

John Ranger, who works for the charity, said: “The agreement was that we would keep the donkeys here with the understanding they would eventually go back."

He added that the donkeys were only ever supposed to stay on the charity’s premises, but the cost of their upkeep was still the responsibility of their original owners.

Mr Ranger claims that when he noticed the donkeys’ hooves needed trimming at the beginning of January this year, he contacted Tracey's friend to let him know.

“There was no confusion over this arrangement,” he told News Shopper.

Although he admitted the donkeys were in a “disgraceful” condition, it was not the charity’s responsibility to pay for their treatment.

Mr Ranger claimed he had already paid "out of his own pocket" for the donkeys' hooves to be trimmed in August 2017.

He added that, after unsuccessful attempts to warn Tracey's friend about the state of the hooves, he had booked the donkeys in for a trim.

However, Ms. Whiskin had taken the animals back before the trimming was due to go ahead.

Alice Whiskin dismissed these claims as “rubbish” and insisted the donkeys were always intended to be looked after by Second Chance Animal Rescue.

Mr Ranger claimed he had received several messages of support since the allegations were made public, but the charity had suffered as several donors have withdrawn donations.

He added that, after the allegations were made, he invited the RSPCA to inspect the property.

A spokeswoman from the RSPCA said: "The RSPCA is aware of concerns surrounding an animal sanctuary in Swanley. One of our inspectors has been invited by the sanctuary themselves to see the site and has offered advice.
"The RSPCA would always urge members of the public who are concerned about the welfare of any animal to ring us on our cruelty line 0300 123 4999."

Tracey's friend refused to comment on the accusations.