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7 November 2011
A Northland dairy farmer has been convicted of failing to provide treatment for an animal under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. He was fined $1000 and ordered to pay $132 in court costs.
Fraser McBeth was sentenced today in the Whangarei District Court after an investigation by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) found that he knew a cow in his care was suffering from “cancer eye” and he did not seek treatment for it.
In April 2011 Mr McBeth sent a number of cattle to a local processing plant. When inspected by a MAF Verification Agency vet, it was suspected that one of the cows suffered from cancer of the eye as it had an enlarged right eye socket and the eyeball wasn’t visible. A post mortem exam confirmed this.
In the vet’s opinion the swelling and discharge from the eye was obvious and treatment should have been sought months before. The vet also stated that the condition was a chronic severe case and that the animal must have been suffering pain and distress, particularly in the final stages.
When interviewed by a MAF Animal Welfare Investigator, Mr McBeth confirmed he was the person in charge of the animal and that although he had noticed the cow may have been suffering from cancer eye, he did not seek treatment of any kind and “forgot about it”.
MAF Compliance and Enforcement Director, Geoff Allen, says the Ministry is pleased with the sentencing as although the majority of farmers care about their animals and are good at what they do, cases like this are simply unacceptable.
“When you are responsible for an animal or animals, it is your ethical and legal obligation to keep them fit and healthy. You have a duty to prevent pain and suffering - particularly pertinent in this case where the problem could have been successfully treated if assessed early on when symptoms became apparent.”
“We have an excellent animal welfare reputation in New Zealand and part of that is because we continue to bring those to justice who, quite simply, behave unacceptably or fail to act.”
Media note: Images available on request
Lisa Gibbison, Senior Communications Adviser
Telephone: 04-894 0432 or 029-894 0432