SPCA New Zealand

SPCA prosecutes woman after neglecting her goat

10 July 2020
SPCA prosecutes woman after neglecting her goat

A Manawatu woman has been prosecuted by SPCA after neglecting her goat, causing the animal to live the last weeks of her life in severe distress.

The woman was sentenced at the Palmerston North District Court to a charge of ill-treating an animal. She was sentenced to 100 hours’ community work, disqualified from owning any stock animals for three years, and ordered to pay reparations of $544.21 and SPCA legal fees of $300.

An SPCA Inspector responded to a complaint in August last year regarding a goat chained to a trailer with no shelter or water.

The grey and white female goat known as ‘Goatie’ didn’t want to stand, was very thin, and her eyes appeared sunken into her head.

Goatie was taken for immediate veterinary assessment. She was found to be suffering from severe dehydration, her extremities felt cold to the touch, and her gums and third eyelids were pale pink.

All four of her hooves were severely overgrown, particularly the right hind, and faecal testing revealed a severe gastrointestinal parasite burden.

The vet noted that Goatie was reluctant to move, groaning throughout the vet check. She displayed extreme discomfort when any pressure was applied to her stomach. The vet concluded that Goatie’s condition was the result of a failure to comply with basic husbandry requirements and the neglect of carrying out routine procedures. Goatie was humanely euthanised to prevent further suffering.

SPCA General Manager Inspectorate Tracy Phillips says goats are intelligent and curious animals who can often be forgotten or left alone while tethered.

“This case shows how tragic this attitude can be, resulting in a desperately dehydrated goat.”

Goatie’s post-mortem revealed she had no food in her stomach, only three foreign objects. She had eaten a 40cm piece of knotted rope, a 15cm by 44cm rectangular sheet of yellow plastic, and a 10cm diameter hard round foreign body that had an irregular crumpled surface.

There was a huge amount of parasites in Goatie’s stomach and intestine, and her gallbladder was massively distended with watery yellow bile, likely because she hadn’t eaten prior to her death. Her kidneys were severely injured because of dehydration, and her liver was diseased. Her overgrown hooves and the parasites would have taken weeks if not months to develop, and in the weeks leading up to her death, she wouldn’t have been able to walk.

The pathologist said that Goatie would have suffered significant distress because of her condition, and that the severity of the dehydration was greater than expected from parasitism alone, and that Goatie would have had inadequate access to water.

“All goats must have access to a reliable daily supply to drinking water, and the trough must be at an appropriate height. Goats also do not possess the ability to withstand cold conditions due to a different distribution of fat and consistency of their coat and therefore require adequate shelter to prevent heat and cold stress,” Ms Phillips said.

“Unfortunately, the parasite burden Goatie was living with was off the scale and can only be described as literally, ‘sucking the life out of her’. She also went without basic husbandry requirements which was fatal. She suffered alone during the winter months with no option for relief.”

When interviewed, the defendant said she had owned Goatie for several months and that she thought she looked fine. She said that she hadn’t provided any supplementary feed to Goatie, but that she had access to water one day before SPCA removed her. While Goatie had been drenched in May 2019, the product was dispensed in 2015, meaning it wasn’t as strong and incorrectly dosed.

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