Robert Ross Dawson

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Published on Jan 29 2016

See below for the sentencing update.


A farmer who neglected his pigs and cows so badly some had to be euthanised has pleaded guilty to mistreating animals.

Robert Ross Dawson, 64, appeared before Judge Allan Roberts on Thursday facing a raft of charges in a Ministry for Primary Industries prosecution.

The summary of facts states at the time of the offending Dawson owned a property in Hurford, just outside New Plymouth, which was divided into two main areas. One was used for free range pigs and the other for homed cattle, a horse and sheep.

At the time there were about 50 pigs, 23 cattle, 10 sheep and one horse.

“The property had very low pasture cover and what was there was of poor quality and high in weeds.”

The summary said the infrastructure was in a state of disrepair, had no effective fencing, which made attending to or controlling animals extremely difficult, and it had insufficient troughs.

When MPI inspectors visited in August 2014 they founda critically unwell Hereford calf.

“It had very poor body condition and stood with a hunched stance. There was heavy faecal contamination of its hind limbs and the formation of dags on its tail, indication it had diarrhoea.”

The calf did not receive treatment and died within 24 hours of the inspection.

A bath being used as a trough for pigs was thick with green algae and contaminated with urine and faeces.

Pigs were seen drinking from muddy puddles rather than the troughs.

The inspector returned five days later to find a distressed cow at the bottom of a steep bank.

The next day Dawson told the inspector the cow had got up the bank; however it was later discovered in the same spot and euthanised by MPI.

In October six pigs were found in two small pens.

“Neither of the pens had food, water or bedding and the pigs in both pens were covered in their own excrement.”

Between October and November further inspections found four of the pigs to be lame and a significant number had mange.

Dawson was issued with notices to immediately attend to the sick animals.

He had one euthanised but did not arrange treatment for the others.

Although Dawson arranged for the pigs to be moved to a property in Otararoa Rd, Waitara, further inspections found the animals’ living conditions had not improved.

Prosecutor David Fordyce withdrew and amended a number of charges which resulted in Dawson, who has previously appeared before the courts for animal welfare matters, pleading guilty to the remaining three.

He admitted two charges of failing to ensure the needs of an animal were met, which carry a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment and a $50,000 fine or both, and one of failing to comply with a requirement of an MPI inspector which has a maximum penalty of $5000.

Dawson was remanded to reappear for sentencing on March 3.



Published on on 26 April 2016

A Taranaki farmer has been fined after previously pleading guilty to three charges laid under the Animal Welfare Act.

 A Taranaki farmer has been fined for failing to meet the needs of stock in his care.

Robert Ross Dawson previously pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to ensure the needs of an animal were met and one of failing to comply with a requirement of a Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) inspector.

The charges were laid under the Animal Welfare Act and arose following an inspection by MPI officials of the defendant’s 11.9 hectare Hurford property, near New Plymouth, in August 2014.

One section of Dawson’s property homed about 50 pigs, 23 cattle, 10 sheep and a horse. When MPI staff visited, there were not enough troughs on the property and the pasture cover was also in poor condition.

During the visit, a critically unwell calf was discovered with very poor body condition and due to a lack of treatment, died within 24 hours of the inspection.

Six other cattle were diagnosed with low body condition and pigs were seen drinking from muddy puddles as the trough created for them out of a bath was contaminated with urine and faeces.

Infrastructure on the property was also found in disrepair with no adequate fencing in place.

During a follow up visit to the farm between October and November 2014, MPI staff found four pigs lame and a significant number with mange.

Dawson was issued with notices to arrange treatment for the animals. While one of the pigs was put down, treatment for the others was not organised.

In the New Plymouth District Court on Tuesday, Judge Chris Sygrove fined Dawson a total of $6000 for neglecting the pigs and cows which had been in the 65-year-old’s care.

Sygrove also ordered Dawson to pay vet costs of $2935.46 and court costs of $260.