Woman fights to keep animals after horse starved to death

5:17 pm on 14 March 2016

A woman whose horse starved to death does not accept it is her fault, and is fighting to be allowed to keep dozens of other animals.

Horses can be frightened by fireworks.

Photo: 123RF

Serial animal hoarder Anne Power was convicted over the death of her horse Pip last year and banned from owning any new animals for eight years.

An SPCA investigation found the 32-year-old horse suffered from an untreated skin infection, and had gum disease so severe it starved to death.

The Auckland District Court decision allowed Power to keep 85 animals - four horses, 11 cattle, 18 sheep, four llamas, four dogs, 40 birds and four cats - but she must give up about 60 others.

However, she's appealing that sentence to the High Court at Auckland.

Power keeps appealing decisions, costing SPCA money and time to fight her in court, but her animals were also paying for it, Auckland SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgeon told Checkpoint with John Campbell.

"The higher cost is to the animals. We have 39 of her dogs in our care at the moment and we can do nothing with them apart from caring for them. We can't get them rehomed or whatever because of this stay of execution.

"It's just ridiculous - the situation just goes on and on and it just keeps costing money for everybody."

Many of the dogs were in a terrible condition when SPCA removed them, Ms Midgeon said.

"A lot of them have cancer, one was disgusting - a big growth with a length of string tied around the growth, and that was the only care that that dog had received. It was in a lot of pain."

SPCA had also recently found a dead sheep and others on Power's property which were falling over because they had too much wool and a mum and pups living in a tin shed with no ventilation, Ms Midgeon said.

"She loves animals but she just doesn't realise what it takes to care for them."

Rescued or mistreated - lawyers give evidence

Power's lawyer Dan Gardiner is arguing that its unfair to extrapolate from her horse's mistreatment that she has a delusionary attitude when it comes to caring for her other animals.

"She has, in many cases, rescued" her animals, and she "doesn't accept that she starved her horse to death."

Referring to her previous history of mistreating animals, Mr Gardiner said "her history has mostly to do with dogs... In this case it's to do with a horse."

Her last offending was more than seven years ago, and she has spent "tens of thousands" on veterinary treatment on her animals, he said.

Watch the Checkpoint video with SPCA below

Justice Whata, the judge in the case, told Mr Gardiner that "in terms of sentencing principals," Power's sentence was not a "punitive attempt to remove animals" but about whether "she's a person who, given her background, ought to be in charge of animals."

Auckland SPCA's lawyer John Billington QC told the court Power's mistreatment of the horse was very serious offending.

"The horse's mouth had decayed to the point that it was rotting away."

He argued that the property near Albany was "not a farm," and "there is no rational explanation given for owning these animals.

"This is a hobby. Owning animals is a hobby."

Justice Whata has reserved his decision.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs