Animals left to die in filth, vet tells court

DAY IN COURT: Daryl Balfour is accused, alongside her husband David Balfour, of ill-treating animals.
DAY IN COURT: Daryl Balfour is accused, alongside her husband David Balfour, of ill-treating animals.

Animals at a couple's property near Woodville were in cages waiting "to get maggoty".

Masterton veterinarian John McLaren told Palmerston North District Court yesterday animals at the property were waiting to die.

David, 62, and Daryl Balfour, 51, each face two charges of ill-treating animals and two of failing to prevent suffering during the period August 2006 to March 2007.


Mr McLaren did not visit the farm between Woodville and Dannevirke but he did examine some cats seized by the SPCA and also gave evidence on Tuesday about what he saw in SPCA photographs.

Yesterday, while being cross-examined by Mr Balfour's defence lawyer Eric Forster, Mr McLaren was asked if he stood by a statement he made on Tuesday that what he saw in photos taken by SPCA investigators was "wilful neglect of the highest order".

Mr McLaren said he did, then referred to a particular photo of the body of a maggot-ridden dead cat.

"I believe that the cat that has died certainly didn't die in any comfort, despite the fact it had the comfort of a bit of newspaper and a hot water bottle.

"And I don't think a reasonable person would have left it there to be full of maggots."

Mr Forster suggested Mr McLaren was talking about respect for dead creatures.

"Since the animal is dead it doesn't become a welfare issue."

Mr McLaren replied that "animals were left dead and maggoty while you've got live animals in cages there, just sitting there waiting their turn".

Mr Forster asked if Mr McLaren was talking about the possibility of airborne or flyborne contamination.

"The fact there is dead or necrotic material about that's just going to contaminate anything that is stuck in cages," Mr McLaren replied. "It gives me the impression the animals are waiting in cages for their turn to end up maggoty."

Mr Forster asked Mr McLaren about testimony from another witness that the risk of contaminating other animals would depend on how the cat had died.

Mr McLaren said this was true but there remained "a certain amount of risk" from having caged animals near "necrotic material" regardless of how the cat may have died.

On March 5, 2007, SPCA inspectors raided the Balfour property, a former pig farm on Heretaunga Rd, where they found 161 cats and 87 dogs allegedly living in poor conditions.

Mr McClaren said there was little evidence in the SPCA photos he had seen of food, water or medication being provided to animals at the property.

"I don't believe that a normal human being, a caring person, would leave animals in the state that these animals were left in," Mr McLaren said.

The trial, before Judge Grant Fraser, continues.

Manawatu Standard