Whangarei horse trainer found guilty of neglect

A Whangarei racehorse trainer who failed to care for his two horses has been disqualified from owning horses and ordered to pay for the cost of nursing them back to full health.

Derek Allen, 44, of Ruakaka will spend three months on community detention and under curfew from 7pm to 5am every day for the duration of that sentence.

Animal welfare agency SPCA laid charges against him: failure to alleviate pain or distress of an ill animal; reckless ill-treatment of an animal and failure to comply with his obligation in relation to the physical, health and behavioural needs of an animal.

He defended the charges at a judge-alone trial in the Whangarei District Court and was found guilty on all except one.

Allen appeared for sentencing yesterday.

He works as a track rider for Logan Racing and has worked in the industry for 27 years.

The charges he faced related to a standard-bred, 10-year-old trotter mare and another 10-year-old thoroughbred flat racer mare.

Two SPCA officers visited a paddock on Marsden Pt Rd in Ruakaka on August 30, 2011 and found low and poor quality grass, an empty bathtub by a gate and four empty plastic half-drums.

One horse was thin and its hooves were overgrown.

Another animal was extremely thin, all the rib, hip and spinal bones were clearly visible. It had overgrown and cracked hooves and hair loss.

The animals were removed from the paddock on the advice of veterinarian Angus Campbell and taken to a foster property in Maungatapere where they went immediately to the trough and drank for several minutes.

Dr Campbell said the thoroughbred mare was starved during a period of weeks and he considered the animal wouldn't have survived any longer in the circumstances.

He said the case was on par with animals he had seen dying in extreme drought conditions.

The hooves of both horses were trimmed and both made a full recovery before they were returned to Allen.

In court yesterday, Judge Greg Davis said given Allen's extensive experience in the horse racing industry and his close proximity to the paddock where the horses were kept, it wasn't a burdensome task for him to look after the animals.

He said Allen's disqualification only from owning animals for one year wouldn't prevent him from working in the industry under supervision.

Allen was ordered to pay the SPCA reparation of $1583 for the cost of feed and veterinarian care.

He was also ordered to pay $452 for costs towards prosecution.

- By Imran Ali of the Northern Advocate

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