Ronald Ward

Ronald Ward


Published in 18/03/2021

A man allowed to have pets despite having a record of animal neglect is now banned from owning any creatures for a decade.

Ronald Ward​ was sentenced in the Palmerston North District Court to five months’ community detention and six months’ supervision for neglecting the animals, Wags​ and Heidi​.

Ward is no stranger to neglecting animals, being convicted in the same court in 2015 alongside his brother Lawrence for neglecting a 227-strong menagerie which included kittens, doves, emus, pigs, pheasants and donkeys.

One of those animals included Tip​, a female dog found in extremely poor condition.

He was banned from owning or controlling all animals for seven years as a result of the 2015 offending, but given an exemption to own two companion animals.

That ban still applied when an SPCA inspector discovered Ward’s latest offending when visiting his Foxton property in December 2019.

Wags, a brown and tan female huntaway, had a growth giving off discharge in her right ear and signs of disease in her left ear.

She also had flees and signs of dehydration, with a vet finding she suffered for months yet treatment was simple.

Heidi, a white female shih tzu, had heavily matted hair which hid her eyes and the pads of her feet.

A vet found Heidi was severely underweight, severely constipated and suffering from tumours, overgrown toe nails digging into the pads of her feet and fleas.

Her eyes had also crusted over with old discharge, she suffered corneal scarring and was completely blind.

Ward told the SPCA he knew Heidi had issues but was planning on getting her “cleaned up” or put down.

He also knew Wags’ ears were not good, but said he was treating it.

Defence lawyer Gareth Stone​ said there was no argument Ward should be disqualified from owning or controlling all animals for a lengthy period of time.

He had not breached his first disqualification, but it was “obviously not ideal” he had offended again, Stone said.

A pre-sentence report writer found Ward likely suffered from a mental health condition akin to a hoarding complex, which probably played a part in the latest offending.

Ward should not be given a purely punitive sentence if his condition played a part in his latest neglect, Stone said.

Lawyer Tom Bagnall​, appearing for the SPCA, said Ward’s previous offending had to be taken into account.

He was a risk to animals, which were “essentially helpless and who rely on their owners for their wellbeing and care”, Bagnall said.

“Mr Ward would have been aware of what happens when you don’t look after animals.”

That was why the SPCA wanted him banned from owning or controlling all animals for 10 years.

Judge Keryn Broughton​ said Ward told the the pre-sentence report writer he had been giving good medical treatment.

That raised issues about a lack of remorse and put him at high risk of reoffending.

There was also a dog present at his home, which appeared to live with him and looked fragile, when he was interviewed for the pre-sentence report, the judge said.

Ward should have treated the dogs much better, with the combination of the abuse and previous neglect meaning he should be banned from owning animals for a decade, the judge said.

“They were vulnerable and they were relying on you to provide their basic needs.”

Ward must also pay $1658 in vet costs and $500 legal costs.

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.