Published on NZ Herald 3/9/2020
A Masterton woman has been banned from owning stock for a decade after horses were left with untreated maggot-infested wounds and other parasite-infested animals were so thin they were barely more than skin and bones.
In one of the worst cases of animal cruelty and neglect ever seen in New Zealand, Lindsay Fraser has pleaded guilty to multiple offences of neglect against her horses and sheep.
It includes leaving animals to starve with untreated open, gaping wounds and sheep with severe fly strike and parasites. Many animals had to be put down, their health unable to be restored by intensive vet treatment.
SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen described the disturbing case as easily one of the worst she’d seen.
“Words can’t describe the pain and suffering these animals must have gone through with a lack of food and no treatment sought for their severe injuries,” she said.
“It is inconceivable that any person could not notice that intervention was required for these animals.”
She said Fraser had a history of taking on more animals than she could handle, which created a pattern of malnourished and diseased animals despite SPCA intervention.
The SPCA said the first instance of neglect was discovered in 2018 when Fraser’s mob of 43 sheep were found by an animal inspector in faeces-covered paddocks with no grazing available.
The inspector took three emaciated sheep into his possession; one with severely matted wool, while the other two had fly strike with wool loss, peeling skin and inflammation with maggots visible.
Despite veterinary treatment, one of the sheep died. The vet assessed that the sheep were suffering from distress caused by underfeeding, internal parasites and fly strike.
The inspector later returned to the property and took the rest of the sheep into possession. Three more emaciated sheep were found to have fly strike and severe clinical parasitism.
Fraser said she had been relying on others to look after her flock but wouldn’t say who that person was. She said that two weeks earlier she had checked the sheep and treated some for fly strike. Despite having text conversations with a shearer, a date had not been fixed to have them shorn.
On a subsequent visit in March 2018 to a second property owned by Fraser, animal inspectors discovered a very thin two-year-old stallion named Max in a paddock with no grass. A vet recommended more food and for the stallion to be treated for parasites.
During a follow-up inspection at the property, the inspector found Max to be emaciated, lying down and tangled in a horse cover. To end his suffering, the stallion was euthanised.
The vet said that Max had suffered a prolonged period of distress due to lack of nutrition and appropriate care.
Two more of Fraser’s horses, Cookie and Freja, were taken into possession and admitted to a veterinary hospital where they were put on feeding regimes.
Cookie, a 20-year-old gelding weighed 360kg, but should have been 450kg. He had parasites, very long feet, and gum ulcers which caused him pain.
Freja, a Clydesdale-type horse, weighed 380kg instead of 500kg. She too, had significant dental issues.
An SPCA inspector issued a notice specifically directing Fraser to provide all her remaining horses up to two slices of hay daily, and give extra to the thinner horses still under her care.
When an inspector went back to the property they discovered an underweight eight-year-old Shire named Keera. A check on her a month later revealed her condition had not improved. Keera’s teeth and gums showed she had been eating very short grass or chewing on trees.
She was taken into SPCA custody a week later.
In 2019, two more horses, Missy and Venus, were both found to have extensive, deep wounds on their back and neck. Missy had an abscess extending up her neck and there was a large painful area over her right shoulder blade. Maggots were visible in Venus’s wounds. Both horses had to undergo surgery.
During surgery it was discovered that both horses’ wounds were infected and granulation tissue showed the wounds were old. Due to the severity of the wounds, both horses were put down.
The vet reported that both animals had extensive damage from trauma after they were attacked by a stallion on the property. The vet said that although the injuries would have been painful when inflicted, the main cause of their pain and distress was the lack of prompt treatment.
Fraser surrendered ownership of Cookie to an animal welfare charity, and ownership of Freja and Keera was forfeited to the SPCA.
Fraser has been sentenced to 150 hours’ community work and ordered to pay SPCA $15,000 in reparations.
She was also disqualified from owning stock animals, with the exception of two, for 10 years.