1 March 2019

A Collie couple, both aged 20, pleaded guilty and were sentenced in the Collie Magistrates Court on Wednesday (27 February 2019) for cruelty to their horse, a thoroughbred stallion named Rio. The charges relate to a cruelty report made in May, 2018.

Each offender has been fined $2000 and both are prohibited from being in charge of any horse or pony for 5 years. They will also each have to reimburse legal costs of $102.65 and veterinary costs of $770.47. The offenders applied for and were granted a spent conviction.

The horse, Rio, was seized by an RSPCA WA Inspector and transported to a local vet. After undergoing a thorough examination and initial treatment, Rio’s condition deteriorated, and the vet made the decision to end Rio’s suffering on humane grounds.

On 29 May 2018, an RSPCA WA Inspector attended the offenders’ property in Collie in response to a report made to the RSPCA Cruelty Hotline by a concerned member of the community.

On arrival at the property, the Inspector found Rio in a small fenced off area, and observed that he had poor body condition; his ribs, hips and spine were clearly visible. The horse was also observed “wind sucking” and eating faeces. The RSPCA Inspector could not see any hay or horse feed on the property.

The Inspector seized Rio and transported him immediately to a local vet for care and treatment. The vet confirmed the horse was in an emaciated condition and that “wind sucking” was an abnormal behaviour which is caused by acute and chronic stressful situations or events. The horse was suffering from extreme loss of body condition and muscle wastage due to chronic inadequate nutritional intake.

Two days after being taken into care, Rio’s condition deteriorated to the point that he could no longer stand up or raise his head. The vet decided the most humane course of action was to end Rio’s suffering.

Comments attributed to RSPCA WA Chief Inspector Amanda Swift:

“It angers me to see people take on horses without the means to care for them properly. Horses are high maintenance and require a level of care much higher than other pets.

“While they might be easy to come by, please don’t take on a horse if you’re not financially prepared for their upkeep. On top of their substantial daily feed requirements, they require ample space, shelter and regular vet check-ups to ensure they remain happy and healthy.

“It’s saddens me to think of the way Rio spent his last days. If you’re struggling to care for your horses, please ask for help before it gets out of hand, as it did in this case.”