A COUNCIL today seized a horse that has shared a home with a woman for over two years - saying it intends to sell or give away the animal.
Stephanie Noble had been sharing her home in the Outer Hebrides with the pony since before Christmas 2011.
And today council officers took Grey Lady Too away in a horsebox and handed the pensioner a letter saying they planned to seek a disposal order from a court.
Two police officers in a patrol car were also on hand as the pony was taken from her grazing area near Ms Noble’s home at Back on the Isle of Lewis.
A tearful Ms Noble said she was “beyond heartbroken” and promised to fight the legal action.
“I am totally stressed out. They should have gone to court first. They have refused to tell me where they have taken her. It is just completely heartless - in fact beyond heartless.
“I feel raped, pillaged and burnt by this council. I hate their guts for what they have done.
“I am taking legal advice but I intend to win her back.”
Ms Noble received a letter from the Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar following a visit by vet Hector Low and a council officer on Thursday.
Ms Noble was given to the end of October to make alterations to her semi-detached home so that her pony can still live in her lounge - as it has done for more than the last two years.
Among the demands that Western Isles Council made to allow Ms Noble to keep the horse in her semi-detached house was that every door that the pony uses at the property - including the front door - must be at least four feet wide, and that a metal grill must be placed over the front window to stop it jumping through if it was spooked by fireworks.
Grey Lady Too passed through four doors to go in and out of the house from inside her stable in the front living room.
Ms Noble today received a new letter from the council’s animal welfare officer Kenny Macleod.
In it he said that under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 the council has the power to “take possession” of the animal if a vet says it is likely to suffer.
“The local vet Mr Low has certified that this is the case with Grey Lady Too and we have no further option than to take possession of the horse to ensure her health and welfare,” wrote Mr Macleod.
“It is our intention to seek a disposal order from the court to allow us to make more suitable provisions for the future of the horse.”
But a defiant Ms Noble says she will fight the moves.
“It is heartbreaking. It was clear that they wanted to take the pony. I am being forced to be separated from my pony - either by selling her or having her taken away from me,” said Ms Noble.
“I would welcome the opportunity to go to court over this because I want it settled. This has gone from harassment to persecution to now torture.
“If I am taken to court I will sell Grey Lady Too to a pre-arranged buyer for £1 and then buy her back for the same sum when I can prove I can keep her where she is or in better circumstances.
“But what the council has done is below the belt and is a heartless action against an old lady - threatening to sell the only thing that is giving her joy.”
Twice divorced Ms Noble, 67, said she had no choice but to move her pony into her home after the animal was allegedly “dumped” on her lawn on Christmas Eve two years ago following a dispute with the owner of the land where the filly had previously grazed.
But Ms Noble says she is doing nothing wrong and the pony is well cared for.
The 15 feet x 12 feet lounge has a fenced-off 8.5 feet x 9 feet section for Grey Lady Too. The pony can see out through the window, which has a blind. Some neighbours say they can see the horse through the window watching them.
“I love that pony. Her welfare and safety is more important than my personal comfort. She is no imposition on my lifestyle. I have plenty of space as long as I move sideways around the house,” said Ms Noble.
A spokeswoman for the council said: “We are proceeding with the case which is based around the welfare of the horse.”