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29 November 2002
Today's ruling in the Whangarei District Court, that 312 cattle at the centre of an animal welfare investigation would not be returned to the Northland farmer charged with their neglect, sends a strong message that ill-treatment of animals will not be tolerated.
Earl Culham of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Special Investigation Group (SPIG) said the decision of Judge Everett regarding Mr Alan Summers' failure to adequately look after his livestock, was the culmination of an intensive and emotionally gruelling investigation.
"This is one of the worst animal welfare cases I have been involved in. It is very frustrating dealing with situations that could have been avoided and this is not the first time we have had to investigate Mr Summers. It has taken months of supplementary feed and veterinary care to get these cattle back to good condition.
"We gave Mr Summers every opportunity to improve the conditions on his farm in preparation for the possible return of his stock, he did not take on board any of the recommendations of the farm consultant contracted to evaluate his farm," he said.
The 312 cattle will be sold to recover some of the costs involved in the investigation which totalled more than $180,000 dollars. This includes veterinary bills, supplementary feed and other associated costs.
Mr Summers is facing seven charges which range from ill-treatment to failure to provide sufficient food. It is expected this will be heard before the court in April 2003.
SPIG became involved in the case in July this year after responding to a tip off from a member of the public. Sixty eight severely emaciated livestock needed to be euthanased and the remaining 318 dairy stock were seized and placed in alternative grazing.
Under the Animal Welfare Act offenders can be charged up to $50,000 dollars or three years in jail.
For more information contact:
MAF Senior Animal Welfare Adviser
021 767 864