SPCA New Zealand

Man ordered to forfeit three horses over neglect

18 September 2023

A Taumarunui man who severely neglected his pregnant horse has been disqualified from owning further horses for five years, after being prosecuted by SPCA.

Man ordered to forfeit three horses over neglect

The man was convicted and sentenced at the Taumarunui District Court on 14 September after pleading not guilty to the ill treatment of an animal. He was ordered by the Judge to forfeit his horses already in SPCA’s care, but his ban on owning further horses came with an exception that he could retain four horses currently in his care.

SPCA first visited the defendant’s property in September 2021, where an Inspector discovered a steel-grey and white horse. Despite being pregnant, the mare was underweight and in poor condition. The defendant agreed to supplement the horse’s diet, however, when an Inspector returned days later to check on the animal, they found the horse had deteriorated further. She was also suffering from severe rain scald – a chronic skin infection – along her back.

The Inspector asked the defendant to muster the horse and several others for closer assessment, but he refused. When the Inspector issued a legal notice ordering the horses to be mustered, the defendant became angry and verbally abusive, screwing up the notice and throwing it at the Inspector.

The following day, the SPCA Inspector returned to the property with a veterinarian to assess the horse. The veterinarian determined the horse was emaciated, lethargic and had overgrown hooves. The vet suggested the horse needed to be drenched for parasites immediately, to which the defendant said he never drenched his horses as he didn’t think it was necessary.

The defendant indicated that he would surrender the horse and several others into SPCA’s care so they could receive the treatment they needed. However, when the Inspector returned at a later date to transport the horses, the defendant became aggressive and physically assaulted the Inspector. Police were called and the defendant was arrested.

SPCA Interim Chief Executive Robyn Kiddle says the neglect of any animal is unacceptable, and so is the abuse of SPCA staff who show up to help.

“Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for our Inspectors to be yelled at and abused by people while trying to help animals in need,” says Ms Kiddle. “While we can appreciate that situations such as this are sensitive and emotions may run high, our hard-working staff deserve to be able to go to work without being harassed. At the end of the day, they’re there to help and do what’s best for the animals involved.”

Two horses, including the emaciated pregnant mare, were subsequently taken into SPCA possession. A veterinarian who examined the emaciated mare concluded that she was suffering from a high parasite burden, which can cause severe weight loss. The animal’s muscles were wasting away, and her bones were clearly visible. As well as being majorly malnourished, she also had rain scold covering half of her body.

“Rain scald is an extremely painful condition which can cause infection if not treated properly, as it wasn’t in this case. This horse was sadly left to waste away over a period of weeks, if not months, and the suffering and distress this neglect caused is just awful to think about,” continues Ms Kiddle.

As well as being disqualified from owning any additional horses for five years, the defendant was ordered to pay reparations of $2,725 to cover veterinary costs.

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