A council that won a four-year possession battle over a horse that lived in a house with its owner is finally set to find it a new home.
Western Isles Council confirmed yesterday that the period in which an appeal could be lodged over it gaining possession of the pony had now passed. It was now free to release it from its care once it had found a suitable place.
The authority has already spent around £10,000 on the horse’s upkeep since seizing it – over five times what owner Stephanie Noble paid for the animal.
In addition it has run up thousands in legal bills.
In March, after a long case, Sheriff David Sutherland awarded the authority a disposal order for the animal and also granted the council costs in the long running case.
The council will now be able to sell the Connemara pony – or donate it – after winning the right to dispose of of Grey Lady Too.
A council spokesman said: “We understand the period in which an appeal can be lodged is now passed and we are now examining our options including selling the pony. But we do not wish to have ownership or keep the animal.
“We are now looking at the best way to proceed.”
The case had been thrown into confusion over previous legal challenges before Stornoway Sheriff Court.
The authority, which had taken the pony into care, sought a disposal order, but Ms Noble wanted the return of the animal. Technically Ms Noble remains the owner.
The council’s decision to remove the horse from the woman’s home was upheld by Sheriff David Sutherland. Ms Noble had challenged the local authority’s decision to remove it.
The council spokesman added: “From the outset, the council’s concern in this matter has been the welfare of the animal and we welcomed the court’s decision which validated the council’s position and actions.
“Grey Lady Too was removed by the council in 2014 because of unsuitable stabling arrangements.”
The council seized the animal in February four years ago, claiming its living conditions for the previous two years in the front room of the ex-council house at Broadbay View, Back, on Lewis, broke guidelines.
Though Ms Noble was still the official owner, the local authority was forced to pay thousands of pounds looking after it at stables on the neighbouring island of Benbecula, more than 80 miles away.
The council went to court so it could sell – or donate – the horse and abolish Ms Noble’s rights to the animal.
Ms Noble maintained the authority acted wrongly when it seized Grey Lady Too.
Ms Noble said previously:”Taking her away from me is bad enough – but to a different island is just added torture.”