Peter Michael Walters
Published on stuff.co.nz on 16 August 2018
A former pony club president has been found guilty of ill-treating his pony for the second time, in exactly the same way as the first.
Judge Lance Rowe found Peter Michael Walters guilty of the charge in the Palmerston North District Court on Thursday, having reserved his decision after a trial in August.
He already had a conviction for ill-treating Cashew, a bay and white pony, in 2010.
On that occasion, he failed to get Cashew’s hooves trimmed, which ended in the pony suffering laminitis – a painful condition that comes about through a lack of trimming hooves.
Extreme cases lead to pain, suffering and death.
He also has another animal cruelty conviction from 1999.
Walters’ latest offending against Cashew happened in April 2016.
There was no argument Cashew suffered pain and Walters did not provide appropriate and timely treatment for the pony.
However, he said he took all reasonable steps to try to get Cashew help before the pony was euthanised in April 2016.
In his written decision, the judge said he rejected Walters’ defence.
Walters had hired Maren Domke to trim Cashew’s hooves from 2011. She said Cashew had chronic laminitis at that point, and tried to trim them in a way that restored them to normal.
But after it was was obvious the damage was permanent, she started trimming the hooves to manage the condition and comfort.
She told the trial Cashew would never get better, but would get worse to the point of needing to be euthanised.
She told Walters in December 2015 he needed to consider euthanasia for Cashew, and contacted him again to February 2016 to organise trimming Cashew’s hooves.
She thought Cashew may already be dead by then, but Walters said he was too busy for Domke to visit.
She said she heard nothing from him again until April 21, 2016, when he asked her to urgently trim Cashew’s hooves.
But Walters disputed that, saying he repeatedly tried to contact her but did not hear back.
The judge said it was highly unlikely Domke would not remember being contacted by Walters.
She had detailed records of Cashew’s trimming regime, and knew how bad the pony’s condition was, the judge said.
“I have no doubt that if Ms Domke had received a request to attend Cashew earlier, particularly on an urgent basis, she would have done so.
“I do not regard Mr Walters’ claim, that he regularly sought Ms Domke’s assistance prior to 21 April, as credible.”
Domke and the SPCA both went to Walters’ property on April 29, 2016, and found Cashew in a poor state.
The pony was in founder stance, rocking back on its legs instead of being upright, and in obvious discomfort.
A vet described Cashew as suffering significant pain, hence the recommendation to euthanise.
Walters told the SPCA he thought the vet was overplaying the pain, but the judge said it was obvious Cashew was suffering.
“At best, [Walters’ comments] demonstrates a level of ignorance as to what is normal pony behaviour.”
The fact he knew how bad laminitis could be, given his earlier conviction for the 2010 offending, made it worse, the judge said.
“Mr Walters should have known better and a reasonable person in his position, having previously been prosecuted for similar neglect, would have known better.”
Walters is on bail until his sentencing in October.