A 42-year-old Cliftleigh woman was convicted and sentenced at Maitland Local Court on Thursday 27 May 2021 after pleading guilty to one count of failing to provide veterinary treatment to her Paint Horse mare, Lady.
The defendant refused urgent vet treatment for Lady, leaving her in agonising pain as a gaping chest wound festered untreated for almost 24 hours.
On 10 February 2020, following a torrential storm, Lady was found in a paddock with a chest wound that transected her chest muscles and exposed her ribcage, measuring 50 centimetres long and almost 40 centimetres deep. Two large pools of blood lay nearby.
A local vet was immediately contacted by the owner of the paddock where Lady was agisted. Arriving in ten minutes, the vet administered temporary pain relief and sedated Lady, who was shaking profusely in pain, before assessing her condition.
The defendant arrived later that evening, and the vet presented all available treatment options to her: take Lady to an emergency centre, treat her in situ, or euthanise her. The defendant refused all the options, including the owner of the paddock’s offer to pay the estimated $6,000 in vet treatment and provide all supportive care.
The defendant said, “We’re taking her home and treating her with silver and honey, and she will be right as rain in [six] months or so,” and loaded Lady onto a float and transported the horse back to her property.
The following day, an RSPCA inspector attended the defendant’s property and saw Lady standing in full sun, on a very hot day, with greying flesh and muscle spilling from the chest wound. It was emanating a foul odour. The inspector confirmed that Lady had been without vet treatment for an excruciating 20 hours. An on-call vet was then contacted and urgently dispatched. The vet conducted an examination and, after talking with the defendant, euthanised Lady.
Upon judgement, Magistrate J. Chicken said, “The photographs are graphic and make very unpleasant viewing. The horse clearly had to be euthanised.”
The defendant was sentenced to an 18-month Community Corrections Order, subject to the conditions that she is of good behaviour and appears before the Court if called upon to do so, and ordered to report to Maitland Police Station within 48 hours for the purposes of fingerprinting.
The Court also fined her $2,000 with moiety awarded to RSPCA NSW, and she was ordered to pay RSPCA NSW an additional $294 in costs.
RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector Scott Meyers said, “It is appalling that someone could choose to remove an animal from the care of a qualified vet.
“This horse very clearly needed emergency vet treatment and was in a position to receive that treatment, but by the owner’s callous decision, she was forced to endure hours of suffering.
“Animals feel pain just as people feel pain, and it is the responsibility of owners to do the right thing and seek veterinary assistance for them.”