A Waharoa woman was disqualified from owning animals for 5 years by the Hamilton District Court last week for failing to treat the obvious injuries and ailments affecting a range of animals in her care.
Lai Toy was found guilty on several counts of failing to ensure animals in her care received treatment and was sentenced to 300 hours community work and 9 months supervision, including attendance of any programmes recommended by probation. Toy was ordered to pay $2000 reparations, $500 towards legal costs and to forfeit ownership of the two cats currently in the care of SPCA Waikato.
The charges relate to a number of animals examined by SPCA Inspectors and veterinarians at Toy’s Waharoa property between 8 July and 3 August 2015. Several of the animals had to be euthanased to alleviate their suffering. One goat had allegedly been hit by a car and was found by a veterinarian to have a fracture near its front right elbow. Euthanasia was recommended due to the nature of the fracture ruling out the option of treatment, and also in order to address the severe pain being suffered by the goat.
Toy requested and was granted a second veterinary opinion. The second vet agreed with the initial diagnosis and also recommended euthanasia. At this point Toy became uncooperative and hostile, demanded a third veterinary opinion, and ordered the Inspectors to leave. The situation quickly escalated. Due to the behaviour of Toy and her associates, the Inspectors and vet left the property and requested police assistance. When police assistance arrived, the goat was euthanased without further incident.
A cow with an eye injury was also found on Toy’s property but was identified as belonging to Toy’s associate, Billy Tui. Tui was convicted of failing to provide veterinary treatment that alleviated pain or distress being suffered by the cow on September 25, 2017.
Veterinary examination revealed that the cow had a tumorous growth, consistent with a sun-induced cancer, affecting the lower eyelid, with severe inflammation and infection of the upper and lower eyelids. The vet concluded that the cow would have been in severe pain for weeks. She added that irritation from pain, discharging fluid, and insects would have caused additional distress, and that the poor body condition of the cow indicated prolonged stress. Euthanasia was recommended, as the cow was not a surgical candidate due to the severe tissue damage and poor prognosis.
A black and white domestic short hair cat seized under a search warrant was found by a veterinarian to be underweight and dehydrated, suffering from kidney disease and severe painful dental disease, and displayed obvious lameness when walking. X-rays confirmed two untreated fractures to the right hind leg estimated to have been present for at least eight weeks, possibly longer. The pain experienced by an animal with a limb fracture would be a level of 3–4 out of 4 on the Colorado State University Feline Acute Pain Scale. When the fracture occurred, it would have been obvious that the cat had a serious injury and veterinary treatment should have been provided immediately. Despite every effort, the cat had to be euthanased due to its declining health associated with the kidney disease.
Further cats were seized, three of which were found to be suffering from two forms of oral disease – periodontal (gum) disease and tooth resorption. Since treatment, two of the cats have been under the care of SPCA Waikato and are now available for adoption.
SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen says she is pleased that the sentence includes appropriate treatment and supervision to prevent reoffending.
“With some offenders education doesn’t work and reoffending is highly likely, and we’re pleased this sentence recognises this and is tailored to the offender with the aim of effectively reducing reoffending,” says Ms Midgen.
“Our challenge is securing meaningful sentences for offenders who have unacceptable attitudes or misguided beliefs regarding animal welfare. At the end of the day, we support any measures that give offenders access to appropriate treatment and supervision to prevent reoffending and save innocent animals from harm.”