Farm workers angry outburst ends in Court

15 February 2012

A Dunedin farm labourer has been convicted of ill treatment of an animal under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

Joshua Thomson was sentenced today in the Nelson District Court for wilful ill treatment of a calf in his care. He was sentenced to 120 hours community work, four and a half months home detention, ordered to pay reparation of $743 and disqualified from owning or having authority over animals for two years.

In November 2010 a Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Animal Welfare Inspector visited an Outram property following a complaint about Mr Thomson’s treatment of a calf while he was working on the farm.

The MAF Inspector assessed the calf with assistance from a vet who stated it had a serious eye injury and was now blind in that eye as a result. In the opinion of the vet, the animal would have been suffering and in severe pain since the incident and needed to be euthanased.

When interviewed by MAF, Mr Thomson admitted that he was frustrated the day he was working in the farm yards drenching and had hit the calf in the face with a steel pipe that was just over a metre long and two centimetres in diameter. The animals owner was on site and stated he also saw Mr Thomson hit the animal forcefully a second time.

MAF Regional Operations Manager Ross Thurston says this case highlights the importance of those responsible for animals to handle them correctly.

“When you are responsible for an animal or animals, the obligation to keep them fit and healthy is yours and you have a duty to prevent pain, suffering and distress. In this case, Mr Thomson lost control and failed in his obligations”.

“New Zealand has a reputation for animal welfare excellence and by far the majority of farmers care about their animals and are good at what they do. However, part of our reputation is due to successfully bringing people to justice when they behave unacceptably”.

Issued by:
Lisa Gibbison, Senior Communications Adviser
Telephone: 04-894 0432 or 029-894 0432
Email: lisa.gibbison@maf.govt.nz

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