*** Warning: This story contains graphic content which may be upsetting. ***

10 March 2021

A Collie couple has been banned from owning horses for life, and fined a total of $30,000, after being found guilty of cruelty to a horse named George and a pony named Robin.

The Collie Magistrates Court heard a man aged 29 and a woman aged 28 had neglected the brown thoroughbred gelding horse and bay gelding pony to an extent that caused illness, injury and suffering.

Each offender received a $10,000 fine in relation to George, a $5000 fine in relation to Robin, were banned from owning horses for life, and banned from owning any animal for the next five years. In addition, the couple was ordered to pay combined costs of $53,676.48.

George, a gelding thoroughbred horse, had an open seeping wound on his neck.Both had been charged with cruelty to an animal under section 19(3)(h) of the Animal Welfare Act 2002 after an RSPCA WA inspector responded to a complaint about the horses in September 2018.

The inspector saw both horses were wearing rugs and when she removed them she saw George had a large, open wound which exposed part of his spine (pictured). The wound was seeping blood and pus and George appeared to be stiff and lethargic. He also had long, cracked and overgrown hooves, large spots of missing hair and abrasions on his flanks, and was in poor body condition.

George, a gelding thoroughbred, was in very poor body condition with his hips and spine clearly visibleWhen the inspector removed Robin’s rug, she saw he had a lean body condition with visible hips, had spots of hair missing throughout his coat, had long, cracked overgrown hooves and had evidence of diarrhoea down his back legs and tail (pictured below).

In addition, the inspector saw empty buckets and containers throughout the paddock along with some buckets containing minimal rainwater, leaves and twigs. There was no additional feed or hay.

George and Robin were seized and taken to Collie Veterinary Hospital for immediate assessment and treatment. A vet found George had a severe infection from his wound, a chronic lice infestation, a urinary tract infection and a raft of other health concerns. His body condition score was zero out of five.

Robin, a gelding pony, had a very poor body conditionRobin had a body condition score of one out of five and also had a severe lice infestation, evidence of previous diarrhoea and was dehydrated.

RSPCA WA Executive Manager Animal and Enforcement Operations, Hannah Dreaver, said the vet report indicated both horses had been suffering for several weeks.

“The vet estimated the lice infestation had taken as many as 15 weeks to develop and George’s spine had been exposed for as long as five weeks.

“Both horses were so hungry it was difficult to get them to stop eating. It’s heart-breaking to think of them in that paddock week after week, hungry, thirsty, unbearably itchy and in pain.

“There is absolutely no excuse for neglect—pet ownership means taking care of your animals or raising your hand and asking for help if you can’t manage on your own. There is never any excuse to let animals suffer to the extent that George and Robin had.”

Both horses continued to receive veterinary treatment after their initial assessment and remain in the care of RSPCA WA. (George (L), and Robin (R) pictured below, have recovered from their ordeal).

George, a gelding thoroughbred, has a made a full recovery   Robin, a gelding pony, has made a full recovery

Hannah thanked Barrister Natasha Stewart of Francis Burt Chambers, Collie Veterinary Hospital and Collie rangers for their assistance in this case.

The RSPCA relies on the community to report incidents of suspected cruelty and neglect. Report cruelty 24/7 on 1300 CRUELTY (1300 278 358) or online here.