Lawrence Ward

Lawrence Ward

Published on 01/07/2015

Two brothers have been called “animal hoarders” and compared to crazy cat ladies, after they were caught keeping an assortment of animals in squalid conditions.

But they are both still able to own some animals, despite a judge saying she could see no reason to let them.

Ronald and Lawrence Ward’s collection of creatures reads like the contents of a small zoo.

Cows, pigs, sheep, goats, dogs, kittens, rats, caged pheasants, doves, chickens, turkeys, miniature ponies, donkeys, emus, alpacas and llamas were among the 227-strong menagerie found on their two rural Palmerston North properties.

Their lawyer Phillip Drummond called them “animal hoarders”, while Ministry for Primary Industries prosecutor David Fordyce and Judge Stephanie Edwards compared them to “the cat lady”.

The brothers pleaded guilty in the Palmerston North District Court on Tuesday to various animal cruelty charges, and were banned from owning or having control over animals for seven years.

Ronald Ward was sentenced to 250 hours’ community work, while Lawrence Ward got 100 hours less because he was often away from the property driving trucks.

Both were charged with failing to meet the wellbeing of animals and a count of reckless ill-treatment.

Ronald Ward, 52, was also charged with wilful ill-treatment and two extra counts of reckless ill-treatment.

The summary of facts states the pair owned a property on No 1 Line, and leased another on Flygers Line.

While both owned the animals, Ronald Ward was their primary caregiver as his 56-year-old brother drove trucks for a living.

Between August 2013 and July 2014, inspectors discovered a litany of continued animal welfare abuses at the properties, despite giving the brothers advice on how to fix the situation.

Sheep were emaciated, suffering from parasitism and gastroenteritis, had extensive dags and did not have enough grazing pasture.

Animals of different breeds, ages and stages of pregnancy often were mixed together, and lived without any suitable housing.

Pigs had to eat food which was thrown directly onto their own faeces, and had no water to drink.

On one visit, inspectors found two small piglets.

Two weeks later, one was dead and the other had to be euthanised. That was despite Ronald Ward saying he had sold one of them.

A large boar found with an abscess the size of a football had to be euthanised, with an autopsy finding its stomach only contained bile and mud.

A female dog called Tip was especially thin, suffered from sores, had not been socialised, and was extremely timid.

After being in SPCA care for a month, Tip had put on 21 kilograms and was no longer scared of people.

Other dogs were in poor condition, with one having lost almost all its hair because of a flea infestation.

The pair pleaded guilty to the charges after a lengthy sentencing indication, during which the main arguing point was if they could keep some animals as pets.

The ministry initially wanted the brothers banned from owning all animals, and the juddge said she could see no reason to make any exemption to a ban.

But the ministry softened its stance, saying the brothers could keep two identified pet animals each – something the judge allowed.

The judge said it was concerning the pair had continued to accumulate animals between July 2014 and June 2015.

The ban from animals was to ensure they could not do the same thing again, she said.

The Wards have until the end of August to offload all the animals they are banned from owning.