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'Immeasurable suffering' - Palmerston North man fined $10,000 for neglecting pony


A Palmerston North man has been fined $10,000 for failing to provide appropriate care and health interventions for his pony which ended up being euthanised.

The vet diagnosed Poncho with chronic, active inflammation laminitis Source: SPCA

Michael Booth pled guilty in the Palmerston North District Court to one charge of recklessly ill-treating a pony, causing it to suffer unreasonable and unnecessary pain and distress.

He was ordered to pay the SPCA $10,000 and today received a three year disqualification "in relation to horses," the SPCA said in a statement.

Booth was also ordered to pay reparations of $264.

In 2017 an SPCA inspector who visited Mr Booth’s property found Poncho, a grey pony with extremely overgrown and misshapen hooves. 

A vet found all four of Poncho’s feet were grossly long and his toes curled upwards instead of contacting the ground. Source: SPCA

A vet was then called to assess the pony and found all four of Poncho’s feet were grossly long and his toes curled upwards instead of contacting the ground.

The vet diagnosed Poncho with chronic, active inflammation laminitis, and said that it was the most severe and chronic case of laminitis she had ever seen. 

Due to the extent of the condition, the vet recommended the pony be euthanised.

When interviewed, the Booth stated that he was aware horses needed their hooves trimmed every six to eight weeks and that he had done most of the work on Poncho’s hooves. When asked why a farrier had not seen Poncho he said, "it was just one of those things. He was out of sight, out of mind".

SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen said of the case: "Poncho lived in a state of quiet desperation for a long time, suffering immeasurably".

She went on to say: "Unfortunately, SPCA inspectors see this type of neglect all too often, whereby laminitis is not managed appropriately, for example restricting access to grass and feed, the provision of pain relief or seeking appropriate corrective trimming."

"Horses have complex needs and require specific care from their owner. It is unacceptable to simply put a horse in a paddock and forget about it. This case is a perfect example of what happens when a horse is neglected, resulting in the suffering of an animal that was entirely preventable."