Horse suffers for months after owner fails to seek veterinary treatment
The defendant was found guilty following a judge alone trial at the Te Kuiti District Court on March 20 of one charge of reckless ill-treatment under the Animal Welfare Act.
The defendant was sentenced yesterday to three months’ community detention and ordered to pay reparations of $1,192.50 and $200 towards legal costs. He was also disqualified from owning and exercising authority over horses for seven years.
The case began on 9 January 2017, when an Otorohanga Animal Control Officer received a complaint about a horse in poor body condition in the Kawhia area and alerted SPCA.
The SPCA Inspector, Animal Control Officer, and a veterinarian then went to carry out a full assessment of the horse. The horse, a chestnut gelding, was found in emaciated body condition with all skeletal features visible. He was also covered in insects.
As the horse was approached there was no reaction, his head was hanging low and he was struggling to stay upright. The veterinarian attempted to walk the horse away from the edge of the estuary where he was located, however the horse could only manage a few feet.
The veterinarian found that the condition of the horse was caused by a combination of missing teeth and oral pain, due to sharp edges on the teeth ulcerating the gums. This resulted in a decrease in food intake over several months. The horse was also suffering from parasite infestation.
The veterinarian went on to say that the oral pain, inability to eat, emaciation and severe dehydration indicated that the horse would not have survived more than a week.
Due to the extent of his injuries and the extreme level of pain and distress he was suffering, the veterinarian recommended that the horse be euthanised on humane grounds.
The defendant declined to be formally interviewed but when asked what he thought about the condition of the horse, he told the Inspector he was going to call a pet food company to come and get the horse but he “didn't get time”.
“This beautiful animal spent his final few months in great pain and distress because his owner failed to look after him properly,” says Andrea Midgen, SPCA CEO.
“It is shocking to see the lack of care some owners give their animals. This horse died a completely unnecessary death, simply because his owner did not provide him with basic treatment.
“Our animals are completely dependent on their owners for food, shelter, companionship, and treatment if they get injured or fall ill. If you own an animal, it is your responsibility to provide these fundamental things.”