SPCA New Zealand

Horse’s eye injury left untreated by owner for nearly five months

24 January 2018
Horse’s eye injury left untreated by owner for nearly five months

An Auckland woman has been sentenced after she failed to seek veterinary treatment for her horse’s significant eye injury.

Emma Boase pleaded guilty in the North Shore District Court to three charges against the Animal Welfare Act. Ms Boase was sentenced to 260 hours’ community work, disqualified from owning horses for 5 years and was ordered to pay reparations of $1468.41 to the SPCA.

The case began on 11 March 2016, when an SPCA Inspector arrived at a paddock in Helensville after responding to a call from a member of the public concerned with the welfare of a horse.

The Inspector saw two male horses on the property, a white and brown horse and a grey horse. The grey horse was showing obvious signs of pain and distress. It was clear that the horse had undergone eye removal surgery and the sutures were still present. The horse’s head was grossly enlarged and misshapen around the site of the eye removal area. Bloody discharge was leaking from the horses’ nasal system and he was having difficulty breathing.

The Inspector requested an immediate consult by an equine veterinarian. The veterinarian assessed the horse to be in unreasonable pain and distress, and believed he would have been so for months.

The veterinarian found the horse’s head to be grossly distorted, and that the growth from the injury site had been causing painful bone destruction. The veterinarian added that the horse was in marked distress from inability to move normal amount of air through his nostrils. They concluded that the disease process occurring would have been clear to any lay person and was markedly obvious at a distance.

Sadly, due to the extent of his injuries and the unreasonable level of pain and distress he was suffering, the veterinarian recommended that the horse had to be euthanised on humane grounds.

Information later given by Ms Boase confirmed the vet’s assessment that the injury was months old. Ms Boase stated that the horse’s eye was surgically removed on October 14, 2014, because of an eye tumour. The vet had recommended that Ms Boase remove sutures two weeks after the surgery. However, the suture removal and recommended post-operative care was not undertaken and the horse was effectively abandoned from that point on.

“This poor horse suffered severe pain for months on end because his owner failed to follow the vet’s advice and provide the required post-operative treatment for him,” says Andrea Midgen, SPCA CEO. “As the vet stated, the horse’s facial swelling, eating and breathing difficulty were obvious even from a distance and should have been tended to immediately.”

“It is an important obligation on horse owners to attend their horses and check their wellbeing and this horse owner has failed in her duty, which is completely unacceptable. 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.”

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