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Tough Fine Hailed In Animal Cruelty Case

Tough Fine Hailed In Animal Cruelty Case

The Royal New Zealand SPCA says it's delighted by the sentence handed down in the Auckland District Court today to a Northland man found guilty of ill-treating horses.

George Albert, a horse trader, has been fined $8,000 for wilfully ill-treating a stallion and a further $5,000 for ill-treating another 12 horses. The two sums combined set a new record for financial penalties for cruelty to horses. Half of this total is to go to the SPCA.

Albert has also been banned from having custody of horses for eighteen months and ordered to pay $556-20 to cover the SPCA's expenses in investigating and dealing with the case.

The sentence follows a jury trial earlier this month in the Kaikohe District Court. The case was the first brought under the 1999 Animal Welfare Act to be tried by a jury and the first jury trial in 42 years on a charge brought by the SPCA under New Zealand animal welfare legislation.

The stallion had been found in an emaciated condition and on the verge of collapse on a property at Mangamuka, south of Kaitaia, where the other horses were also discovered in a neglected condition. "This verdict sends a strong signal that cruelty to animals is simply unacceptable. We believe a good precedent has been set for dealing with future cases of cruelty and neglect," says the Royal New Zealand SPCA's Chief Executive Officer, Peter Blomkamp.

"After a string of soft sentences, the courts are finally beginning to take animal cruelty cases seriously. This historic decision will be welcomed by all who care for the welfare of animals and for our reputation as a humane and responsible country," he says.

The charge of wilfully ill-treating an animal carries a maximum jail term of three years and/or a fine of up to $50,000.

In sentencing Albert, Judge Gittos said that something of a breach of trust occurs whenever someone responsible for animals neglects them.

The judge described the case as not being one of offending in ignorance.

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