THE owner of Penderlea Horses has been convicted on 54 charges of animal cruelty in a case brought by the RSPCA.
Penderlea owner Janice Northey failed to appear in Bega Local Court to face the charges on Tuesday.
In addition to paying almost $60,000 in combined fines, veterinary bills and court costs, she will have to surrender all her horses to the RSPCA and is banned from owning the animals for 10 years.
RSPCA inspector Tony Croker has been investigating Ms Northey’s treatment of her horses since February 2013 following complaints.
“This has been a lot of work for the RSPCA, and it’s been a multi-agency investigation which included Local Land Services, private vets and local police.
“On our first inspection last February we inspected 166 horses, so we are looking at a lot of work to rehouse these animals once they are surrendered.
“She was issued with instructions regarding the animal’s welfare.
“There were several subsequent inspections in which it was observed she had failed to adhere to these instructions and some horses were seized at the time.
“Ultimately this is about the care and welfare of the horses, it’s been a long and detailed investigation.
“That Ms Northey was been banned from owning horses for this amount of time is a good outcome.”
She did not appear at Tuesday’s sentencing at Bega Local Court where the magistrate found her guilty on 54 charges made under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
The owner was convicted and fined $600 each for 20 counts of failure to provide veterinary treatment to a horse, and $350 each for 34 counts of failure to provide sufficient food and water, bringing the total of the fines to $23,900.
The owner also ordered to pay veterinary fees of $24,677 and professional costs of $4400.
Ms Northey has also been ordered to surrender all horses under her care to the RSPCA within one month.
She is also prohibited from purchasing, acquiring, taking possession, care or custody of any horse for 10 years.
“Owning an animal is a privilege, and it’s a lot of a work to provide care for a horse which includes teeth, worming, hooves etc,” Mr Croker said.
“You are multiplying that cost by the hundreds in this case.”
The sentencing was not only a win for the RSPCA, but for local activist Lara Fanning who started a Facebook page about the neglect 14 months ago, shortly after she brought the issue to the attention of the RSPCA (BDN, 15/2/13).
"We are really ecstatic, it’s not often a magistrate will come down on an owner with this kind of severity,” Ms Fanning said.
“The neglect of these horses has to end.
“We are also really thankful to the RSPCA for pursuing the matter.”
Ms Northey was being served with the notice of each order on Wednesday - it is unknown if she will appeal the judgement.