Suspended jail sentence for Knaresborough man who allowed llamas to suffer

**Reader caution recommended over viewing the images at the end of this news item**

A man from Knaresbrough has been given a 12 week jail sentence suspended for 12 months for allowing ten llamas to suffer. One of the animals had to put to sleep after being found in a collapsed state.

John Stuart Shaw (D.O.B 04.02.71) of Littondale Avenue appeared at Harrogate Magistrates court on Tuesday (12 June 2012) where he pleaded guilty to three allegations under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

He admitted, between 11 February and 17 February 2012 in the vicinity of Thistle Hill, Knaresbrough,

  1. Causing unnecessary suffering to a female llama by failing to provide a balanced diet suitable for her needs which led to her death
  2. Failing to meet the needs of nine llamas by failing to meet their need for a suitable diet and
  3. Failing to meet the needs of nine llamas by failing to protect them from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

RSPCA inspector Dave Holgate said:

These llamas were extremely underweight when they came to my attention. When examined by a vet they were given a body score of between zero and one out of five, five being obese. It’s the first time in 19 years I’ve ever had a body score of zero on a live animal.

The RSPCA visited the field where the llamas were kept with a vet and Trading Standards on 17 February 2012. A collapsed llama was put to sleep at the scene with the owner’s permission and the remaining animals were taken into possession by police on veterinary advice and placed in RSPCA care. They were later signed over to the RSPCA and have been re-homed to a specialist llama keeper.

The court heard that Mr Shaw had just endured the break-up of his marriage and was living between two places and that he simply couldn’t afford to provide enough food for the animals.

As well as the suspended jail sentence, he was also banned from keeping any animals for ten years, ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work and pay costs of £3,050.00 within three months.

Inspector Holgate said:

We always hope for a ban on keeping animals as the best way to ensure others don’t suffer in future so I am pleased with the sentence passed.

As the owner of the llamas, Mr Shaw was responsible for ensuring their needs were met but he failed in the most basic of these – ensuring they had sufficient food. He knew they needed more than he was providing but he did nothing about it and they suffered to an extreme degree as a result.

I hope the sentence passed today will mean he won’t ever allow himself to get into this kind of position again.


All images by RSPCA.





  1. This is disgusting and I hope the man in question feel extremely guilty. We all have times when finances arer difficult, but there are plenty of animal welfare organisations that could have helped the man to provide for his llamas has he asked for help. I’m glad he has been given a hefty fine and banned from keepoing animals.

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