SPCA New Zealand

SPCA prosecutes man over ram’s ‘horrific’ horn injury

06 July 2023

A man who allowed his ram’s horn to grow into its face, pushing its eye out, has been banned from owning stock animals for five years.

SPCA prosecutes man over ram’s ‘horrific’ horn injury

The man was sentenced at Huntly District court on June 29 after pleading guilty to a charge of failing to provide for the physical, health and behavioral needs of an animal. As well as being disqualified from owning stock animals, the man was sentenced to 100 hours of community work, and ordered to pay reparations of $104.60, prosecution costs of $209.00 and court costs of $130.00.

The charge was filed after SPCA was notified about a flyblown ram at the defendant's Waikato property in February 2022. The man’s ex-wife was also charged and was discharged without conviction.

When SPCA’s Inspectors assessed the adult Wiltshire ram, they noticed its head was lowered to the ground and it appeared to be disorientated with no sense of direction, and it was visually impaired. The ram was shaking its head constantly and there was a dark line of discharge down the right side of its face.

The ram’s left horn was curled against its head, causing a raw wound above its left eye. Flies were swarming around the animal’s head, with clear signs of it being flyblown. But what was most alarming was the ram’s right horn, which had grown through its face. It had entered behind the right eye, which was protruding out of its socket and was black. This area was also severely flyblown.

SPCA Interim Chief Executive Robyn Kiddle says the injury would have caused the ram immense pain, and it’s distressing to know the owners didn’t act sooner.

“This was a horrific injury caused by overgrown horns that should have been remedied weeks, if not months, earlier. Instead, the animal was neglected and left to suffer in pain and distress, which never should have happened,” says Ms Kiddle.

The defendant’s wife, who showed Inspectors the ram, said that she was aware it had a horn injury, which had affected its vision on one side. She had noticed this at the end of 2021 and had been monitoring it since. She said that she and the defendant had planned to have a vet euthanise the ram when he returned from being away.

A vet was immediately called to the property by SPCA, and the ram was euthanised to end its suffering.

When interviewed, the woman said that she had contacted a vet the week prior to enquire about the cost for euthanasia and dehorning. However, two local vet clinics had no record of this call. She also said she didn’t see anything wrong with the ram’s head, as she thought the horns were circled and they were blocking its vision. The woman told Inspectors she’d never had the ram’s horns cut and did not get close to the animal as she was scared that it would attack her.

The defendant told SPCA he owned the sheep and worked away from home. He was last at the property two days before SPCA was called. He said he hadn’t noticed the ingrown horn and thought the ram was healthy, which is why he hadn’t sought any veterinary treatment.

“There were clear signs that this poor ram was in pain and distress, yet nothing was done to ease its suffering. There was absolutely no excuse to ignore these signs, nor leave it in such a terrible state. I can’t begin to image the pain this poor animal was in and we’re incredibly grateful that SPCA were notified,” Ms Kiddle says.

The Judge also ordered the defendant’s wife to pay reparations of $104.60.

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