SPCA New Zealand

Man who caused animals severe distress before their deaths prosecuted by SPCA

08 July 2022

A man who reduced three horses to skeletal condition and deprived them of veterinary care has been prosecuted by SPCA. The director of a pet food company told an SPCA inspector that horses were “mongrels” and people only dropped them at his property for him to “deal with”.

Man who caused animals severe distress before their deaths prosecuted by SPCA

He appeared at Christchurch District Court on Thursday, charged with three counts of failing to provide for their physical, health and behavioural needs. The defendant, who ran his business from his South Island property left three horses in states of exhaustion, weakness, debility, hunger, thirst, pain and physical discomfort as a result of absent veterinary care and food deprivation.

In November 2020,a bay thoroughbred mare in good health was delivered to the defendant’s property to be euthanized and processed for pet food. Four months later, in March 2021, this horse was reported to SPCA to be in serious distress by a member of the public, lying down and “thrashing around”.

An SPCA Inspector arrived at the property to discover this horse emaciated, unable to stand and an area of her body dry and hairless from rubbing on the ground.

They also discovered three other horses, one of which seemed healthy and two described as “thin” and “emaciated” in areas with the grass chewed down to dirt level and no sign of supplementary feed.

A Veterinarian was called to inspect the horses, but while waiting for their arrival, the defendant returned to the property and shot the two emaciated horses dead on the spot – despite being urged not to by the SPCA Inspector.

Upon arrival, the Vet examination established that both horses had been “reduced to skeletons” and were beyond veterinary assistance, and euthanasia should have occurred days, if not weeks prior.

Three months later in July 2021, while already conducting an initial investigation, SPCA was again called to the property by a member of the pubic after noticing a horse lying on the ground. SPCA, NZ Police and a Veterinarian arrived in the early evening after receiving further information that it looked as though the horse’s throat had been cut.

The defendant, angry at their arrival, insisted the horse was no longer on the property, but as the Inspectors were leaving, they discovered the emaciated horse lying by a large deep pit, with its throat cut.

Upon examining where the horse had been lying prior to being moved, there was blood on the ground and a rut that was approximately 15cm deep, indicating that the horse had been down for several hours and had dug these with its feet.

SPCA Chief Executive Andrea Midgen said the conditions the treatment of these horses is despicable and no animal should be left to starve and suffer in this way.

“I saw images of these poor horses and they are sickening”, says Ms Midgen. “It never ceases to amaze me how some people don’t seem to understand that animals feel pain just like we do – these horses would have been scared, starving, in pain and distress.

“Humans have a responsibility when it comes to the treatment of animals and to ensure their wellbeing, before being humanely euthanized. Letting them suffer and starve like this is beyond disgusting.”

The defendant was sentenced to two months community detention, ordered to pay reparations of $527.90 and legal fees of $500. He was also disqualified from owning horses for four years.

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