5 October 2018

A husband and wife from the Shire of Murray were both found guilty of animal cruelty offences in the Mandurah Magistrates Court on Wednesday (3 October 2018).

The charges from September 2015 relate to their failure to provide proper care for chronic laminitis in their 12 year old gelded pony, Rio. Laminitis is a debilitating and extremely painful condition which can render the animal unable to stand or move.

The couple were each fined $4000, and each had legal and care costs of $7000 awarded against them. They have also been banned from being in charge of any horse for a year.

An RSPCA WA Inspector attended a property in September 2015, after a report about a lame pony. The pony was seized by the Inspector and later moved to a foster care property where he could receive proper veterinary treatment and begin his long rehabilitation.

Laminitis is a condition where the bone can tear away from the hoof wall and be driven down inside the hoof capsule by the full weight of the horse. Rio’s condition was so bad that he was having great difficulty bearing any weight on his hooves.

Rio was found in a lush green pasture and looked well fed, despite his painful condition. Unrestricted access to pasture high in sugars, such as this, can be one of the causes of laminitis. Proper understanding of care for horses, and regular vet care, could have easily prevented Rio’s condition progressing to such an acute state.

Comments attributed to RSPCA WA Chief Inspector Amanda Swift:

“Laminitis is one of the biggest killers of domestic horses in the world, and is readily preventable. Horses and ponies require extensive maintenance and care, and owners need to be aware of the environmental factors that can affect the health and welfare of their pets.

“While leaving a pony in a lush green pasture seems like an easy and effective way to provide food, in Rio’s case, it was the very cause of his excruciatingly painful condition.

“Overfeeding your pony or horse is just as bad as underfeeding him, and in Rio’s case, we’re thankful that a concerned member of the community reported this to us before it became a death sentence for Rio.

“I’m pleased to say that Rio has made a slow, but full recovery in the care of one of RSPCA WA’s dedicated foster carers, and will now be able to live the rest of his life in relative comfort.”

RSPCA WA would like to acknowledge Jackson McDonald law firm, and Barrister James Healy for their extensive support on this case.