No bull - SPCA's cow culling criticised

Last updated 12:58 19/03/2014

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The Nelson SPCA is being criticised for getting rid of a bull liked by a 90-year-old woman who has bequeathed all her money to the animal protection organisation.

Animal-lover Delma Harbutt, of Stoke, died last June and in her will gave her estate to the Nelson SPCA. She had not married or had children.

An acquaintance, Jared Lilley, said Ms Harbutt was fond of animals and used to take neighbours' dogs for walks.

She also liked to go and look at a cow and a bull which grazed in the paddock by the SPCA's headquarters on Waimea Rd.

He said he had learnt that the cow had a calf, and the bull, called Star, had now been taken away and was to be slaughtered.

"I think she would be very disappointed.

"It does seem a bit strange that the SPCA which is supposed to protect animals and has received a considerable sum from this woman would then allow to be destroyed something she got a lot of enjoyment from. It seems a bit off."

Nelson SPCA chairman Stuart Walker confirmed that it had received the proceeds of the sale of Ms Harbutt's Stoke home. The capital was invested and the income used for the wellbeing of animals it cared for.

The Cobham Cres property has a rateable value of $250,000.

It had been decided because of drought and feed conditions "to let go" one of the three cattle beasts.

He said the bull had gone to a farm and he understood it would have quite a lot of life but as chairman he was not involved in daily operations and could not provide details.

Mr Lilley said he understood it had gone to a yard in Redwood Valley and would be sent to slaughter.

Mr Walker said: "No-one knows the future of an animal. The SPCA does not have control once it is put out. Every animal has a finite life.

"We all enjoy seeing the animals. Our volunteers love to see them there as well.

"But there's a practical limit on how many animals you can keep in drought conditions.

"From a practical point of view it was not prudent to keep this animal."

The SPCA kept supplementary feed during dry conditions which was part of its ongoing costs, he said.

Mr Lilley said Ms Harbutt's bequest would have paid for any supplementary feed needed for the bull.

As a young woman Ms Harbutt came from the North Island to work a season on a Mahana orchard and ended up staying.

Debbie Jones, granddaughter of the family she lived with, said: "First and foremost she loved animals, more than humans."

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- Nelson


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