Western Victorian farmer pleads guilty to animal cruelty

A farmer from western Victoria has received a two-year good behaviour bond and been ordered to pay costs of $5,700 after pleading guilty to animal cruelty charges at the Horsham Magistrates’ Court last week.

Drung South farmer Bernard Gross pleaded guilty to one charge of animal cruelty and seven charges of aggravated cruelty, relating to sheep that were found to be in poor condition – including several that were stuck in mud due to an overflowing trough – in April and May 2018.

The Court heard that the sheep in Mr Gross’ care were in very poor condition. During inspections in autumn 2018 Agriculture Victoria officers reported seven dead sheep. A further five were euthanised as a result of their poor condition and their inability to walk.

In delivering his decision, Magistrate McNamara said while the offences were very serious he took into account Mr Gross’ lack of prior offending and departmental involvement since the incident, as well as his personal circumstances at the time.

Agriculture Victoria Animal Health and Welfare Compliance Manager Daniel Bode said people who own animals have a serious responsibility to look after them and minimise their suffering.

Mr Bode said apart from the obvious pain and suffering of the animals, 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 welfare is of critical importance to the Victorian Government or the community,” he said.

“Farmers are reminded that adequate supervision is a requirement to ensure animals have proper and sufficient care, feed, water and shelter.”

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