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Warring couple abandoned 32 animals to starve

Media release

11 March 2014

Warring couple abandoned 32 animals to starve

A couple in the midst of a marital separation deserted 32 animals on a lifestyle block where 12 of the animals starved to death.

Mohammed Aqueel Laxman, 36, was found guilty today in the Waitakere District Court of wilful ill treatment of animals. He was sentenced to six months community detention, disqualified from owning animals for 10 years, and ordered to pay reparations of $2678.18. All animals owned by him or in his possession are to be forfeited to the SPCA.

Zeenat Yunus Musa, 30, was also found guilty of wilful ill treatment of animals. She was sentenced to three months community detention, disqualified from owning animals for 10 years, and ordered to pay reparations of $2000. All animals owned by her or in her possession are to be forfeited to the SPCA.

On 8 August 2012, SPCA Inspectors acting on a complaint visited a 6-hectare lifestyle block in Helensville and discovered 10 chickens locked in a steel barn with no food or water. Five of the chickens were dead. Inspectors also found seven calves confined in a small pen. Two of the calves were dead. The remaining five calves had no food and inadequate shelter.

A Veterinarian examined two of the chickens and found the animals were severely emaciated and would have suffered distress and pain. One chicken weighed only 1.17kg – its normal body weight should have been 2kg to 3kg. The Veterinarian also found the five living calves were suffering from starvation, ill thrift, diarrhoea, coughing, and serious worm burdens.

A further visit to the property revealed 15 goats, four of which were dead. The Veterinarian found the live goats were in extremely poor condition, had severe worm burdens, and were suffering ongoing distress from diarrhoea, dehydration, and emaciation. Some of the goats were later seized and taken into SPCA care.

When interviewed, the defendants admitted neglecting and effectively deserting the animals on their property due to personal problems. They surrendered all the animals seized into the care of SPCA Auckland.

Mohammed Aqueel Laxman pleaded guilty on 5 September to deserting 10 chickens, 7 calves, and 15 goats, leaving them with no provisions for their physical, health, and behavioural needs. He also pleaded guilty to wilful ill treatment of six chickens leading to their death, ill-treatment of five calves causing them to suffer unnecessary pain or distress, and failing to ensure 11 goats received treatment to alleviate unnecessary pain or distress.

His partner, Zeenat Yunus Musa, pleaded guilty on 25 November to two charges – one of wilful ill treatment of the chickens and one of failing to comply with the requirements of an SPCA Inspector.

“Even in the sad event of a breakdown in a family relationship there is absolutely no excuse for leaving animals to die a slow and agonising death,” says Bob Kerridge, SPCA Auckland Executive Director.

“If you accept guardianship of an animal you cannot neglect your responsibility for that animal for any reason, whether personal or not. Animals are sentient beings who feel pain and emotional distress just like humans, and therefore deserve protection and respect. If you neglect or abandon the animals in your care, you can expect to be prosecuted.”

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