Animals starved as marriage crumbled

Last updated 01:01 12/03/2014

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Calves, chickens and goats were left to starve to death after a couple abandoned their animals on a rural West Auckland property during the breakup of their marriage.

Mohammed Aqueel Laxman, 37, and his partner, Zeenat Yunus Musa, 30, were found guilty in the Waitakere District Court today of wilful ill-treatment of animals after SPCA inspectors found 32 deserted animals, 12 of them dead on their 6-hectare Helensville lifestyle block.

SPCA inspectors acting on a complaint visited the block on August 8, 2012, and discovered 10 chickens locked in a steel barn with no food or water. Five chickens were dead.

Inspectors also found seven calves confined in a small pen. Two calves were dead. The remaining five calves had no food or adequate shelter.

A further visit to the property revealed 15 goats, four of which were dead.

The veterinarian found the live goats were in extremely poor condition, had severe worm burdens, and were suffering ongoing distress from diarrhoea, dehydration, and emaciation.

When interviewed, the defendants admitted neglecting and effectively deserting the animals on their property due to personal problems.

They surrendered all the animals seized into the care of SPCA Auckland.

"Even in the sad event of a breakdown in a family relationship there is absolutely no excuse for leaving animals to die a slow and agonising death," Bob Kerridge, executive director of SPCA Auckland, said.

"If you accept guardianship of an animal you cannot neglect your responsibility for that animal for any reason, whether personal or not," Kerridge said.

"Animals are sentient beings who feel pain and emotional distress just like humans, and therefore deserve protection and respect.

"If you neglect or abandon the animals in your care, you can expect to be prosecuted."

Laxman was sentenced to six months' community detention, disqualified from owning animals for 10 years, and ordered to pay reparations of $2678.18.

Musa was sentenced to three months' community detention, disqualified from owning animals for 10 years, and ordered to pay reparations of $2000.

All animals owned by the couple or in their possession are to be forfeited to the SPCA.

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- Fairfax Media

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