30 October 2020

*** WARNING: Graphic content ***

A 72-year-old woman from Jelcobine, 115km south-east of Perth, has today been sentenced after pleading guilty to one charge of animal cruelty in the Armadale Magistrates Court.

She was fined $18,000 and ordered to pay costs of $4,300. She has also been prohibited from owning livestock for five years.

The woman was charged with failing to take reasonable steps to alleviate harm to her horse, Shakira, under Section 19(3)(h) of the Animal Welfare Act 2002.

In February 2019, the RSPCA received a complaint regarding concerns for a grey horse who appeared to be injured on a property in Jelcobine.

When the WA Inspector went to the property, she saw a horse with a large wound – which the treating vet later assessed as being approximately 75-90cm long and 30-40cm wide - near her wither (shoulder).

The open wound was so big and the resulting infection so severe that part of Shakira’s spine was exposed.

The infection had also invaded the horse’s neck which had swollen, and puss was bubbling out of cracks in her skin.

In consultation with a vet who examined Shakira, a decision was made to seize the animal. She was sedated and taken to an external vet for emergency treatment where test results revealed a severe bacterial infection that had likely been present for more than two weeks.

Given the stage and extent of infection, and the size of the wound, it was determined by the attending external vet, and two other vets at the same practice, that any treatment would be inhumane and the only humane option was to end Shakira’s suffering.

Executive Manager Animal and Enforcement Operations, Hannah Dreaver, said Shakira’s ordeal could have been avoided, and the initial injury healed, if the offender had sought medical attention sooner.

“It’s heartbreaking when you think there was absolutely no need for Shakira to suffer over such a long of period of time, if only her owner had sought treatment for the injury when it first happened,” Hannah said.

“Imagine how painful a wound of that size, and the symptoms of infection, must have been.

“Our animals rely on us for everything. Getting vet treatment when you notice something isn’t right is as much a part of responsible pet ownership as supplying them with food, water, shelter and love.

“If you notice any change in your pet’s behaviour or condition, please get help as soon as possible and, if you can’t afford it, please ask for help. There is never an excuse for letting your pets suffer needlessly.

“Thank you to the person who noticed something wasn’t right with Shakira and alerted us. We rely on the community to report incidents of suspected cruelty and neglect, so please don’t be afraid to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.

“Thank you so much, as well, to lawyers K&L Gates Perth who provided pro-bono assistance in this case.”

Report cruelty 24/7 on 1300 CRUELTY (1300 278 358) or at rspcawa.asn.au