Jancourt East farmer Alexander Watson pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated cruelty resulting in the serious disablement of a steer, at the Warrnambool Online Magistrates’ Court on Monday 11 October.
Mr Watson was the owner of a number of cattle in Jancourt East in February 2020.
Following a report, Agriculture Victoria officers attended and observed a steer that was suffering from an eye cancer growth, 14 cm in diameter, with no evidence of any veterinary treatment provided and no notification given to Agriculture Victoria.
The steer was subsequently euthanised on humane grounds following the officers’ attendance.
Mr Watson pleaded guilty to one charge of aggravated cruelty resulting in the serious disablement of the animal and one charge of failing to notify an inspector of the disease in accordance with the Livestock Disease Control Act (LDCA).
The Magistrate took into account the accused’s early plea, remorse and lack of priors.
His Honour nevertheless noted the court must condemn this type of offending, in particular the fact that Mr Watson’s approach to basic animal husbandry fell way short of the requisite behaviour required and a sentence should reflect the seriousness in respect to general deterrence.
As a result, Mr Watson was fined $2,500 without conviction with costs awarded to the department in the amount of $351.
The Magistrate also issued a Conditional Control Order for a period of five years, ensuring all animals in Mr Watson’s care are provided for with a monitoring order imposed.
Agriculture Victoria Compliance Manager Daniel Bode said bovine eye cancer is a common condition in Hereford cattle. The severity of eye cancers can be reduced by the early identification of growths and prompt action by either seeking veterinary treatment or culling.
“Owners who fail to take reasonable action to prevent suffering in their animals will be considered for prosecution under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.
“Apart from the obvious pain and suffering of the animal, animal welfare breaches can jeopardise Victoria’s reputation as a humane and responsible producer of food, which can affect all producers.
“This is a reminder to all livestock producers that animal cruelty will not be tolerated by the Victorian Government or the community.”
From July 2020 to June 2021, Agriculture Victoria received and assessed 953 animal welfare reports of which 309 were found to be substantiated. Agriculture Victoria assesses each animal cruelty investigation for the most appropriate regulatory outcome, ranging from voluntary compliance and education to warning and infringement notices and finally prosecutions for serious matters.