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22 November 2021

Teesdale resident prosecuted for neglect of 42 Welsh ponies

An animal cruelty case involving 42 underweight Welsh ponies was finalised today in the Online Magistrates’ Court sitting at Geelong, proceeding by way of a guilty plea.

RSPCA Inspectors attended the Teesdale property in February 2019 after receiving a cruelty report relating to underweight horses and observed 47 ponies without any access to pasture or supplementary feed.

Upon inspection, 42 of the ponies had a body condition score of under two. Allowing body condition to fall below a score of two is likely to compromise a horse's welfare. The ribs of the 42 underweight ponies were easily visible, their backbones were prominent and their rumps were sunken due to malnourishment.  One pony was suffering with a large swollen mass over his left cheekbone and died in his stall before he could receive veterinary attention.

RSPCA Victoria attending Inspectors issued a Notice to Comply instructing the accused, a Teesdale woman, to seek veterinary treatment, provide proper and sufficient feed and to consider surrendering or rehoming the ponies. Upon revisiting the property the same day, an RSPCA Inspector and a council ranger were advised by the accused that she had not been paying attention to the condition of the ponies. 

Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, any person in charge of an animal is required to provide food, water and shelter, as well as appropriate husbandry and veterinary attention as needed. 

RSPCA Victoria Chief Inspector Michael Stagg said the ponies would have suffered terribly and that animals require regular food and water along with ongoing care and attention in order to live a healthy life.

“Without proper care, animals suffer physically and mentally. Owners and people in charge of animals have a legal responsibility to provide adequate care, and if they fail in that responsibility they may be prosecuted.” said Mr Stagg.

The attending veterinarian who examined the ponies found that 32 were in a severely emaciated condition due to inadequate food intake, which would have been a chronic process, occurring over many months.

In the attending veterinarian’s expert opinion, the poor conditions of the ponies would have been obvious to a lay person and therefore an opportunity existed for the accused to have sought veterinary advice to improve the health and condition of the animals well in advance of RSPCA Victoria attending the Teesdale property.

Neglect continues to be a serious animal welfare concern in Victoria and is the basis for the majority of cruelty reports made to RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate. 

The accused surrendered eight ponies into the care of the RSPCA Victoria and a horse rescue group. RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate subsequently attended the property on six separate occasions and observed the remaining ponies gradually gain weight and reach an acceptable body condition.

Today in the Online Magistrates’ Court sitting at Geelong the accused was placed under an s12 disqualification order for a period of one year commencing on 22 February 2022, was ordered to reduce her pony numbers from 24 to 10 ponies and given a period of three months to reduce the numbers. An s21A monitoring order was granted with an inspection ordered to be made on 22 February 2022 to ensure that the numbers have been reduced. The accused was placed on a good behaviour bond for 18 months without conviction and a donation in the sum of $1500.00 was ordered to be paid to RSPCA Victoria.

***WARNING - GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW***

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