Cattle cruelty attracts $47,000 fine

by Beef Central, 13 December 2012

A Western Australian farmer had been fined $47,000 and faces a three-year conditional ban prohibiting him from being in charge of animals.

The sentence came after Melvin John Hettner from Kojonup pleaded guilty in the Narrogin Magistrates Court to three charges of animal cruelty brought by the RSPCA.

The ban is conditional on Mr Hettner obtaining livestock management advice. RSPCA Inspectors will supervise his property for the next three years.

In addition to the fine he has also been ordered to pay RSPCA $8500 in costs.

Mr Hettner pleaded guilty to three charges including a failure to provide proper and sufficient food to approximately 250 cattle under Section 19 (3) (d) of the Animal Welfare Act 2002, which attracted a $16,000 fine.

In addition, he pleaded guilty to a failure to comply with a direction notice issued under Section 47 (1) (j) and 47 (3) which required him to provide proper and sufficient food to the cattle and to get veterinary advice, which attracted a $5000 fine, and finally continuing for a period of 52 days to not comply with that direction under Section 79 of the Animal Welfare Act 2002 $26,000 fine.

RSPCA Inspectors and a Department of Agriculture and Food WA veterinarian attended Mr Hetttner’s properties on a number of occasions between February and May 2011 and observed numerous animal welfare issues relating to lack of feed for the cattle. They also reported that many of the animals were in poor to very poor condition.

On 5 December 2011, Melvin Hettner’s brother, Brenton Hettner, was found guilty of animal cruelty and banned from owning livestock for three years. He was also fined $15,000 and ordered to pay costs of almost $24,000 to the RSPCA.

In her sentencing remarks, Magistrate Watt said that “For a considerable period your animals were suffering. Your awareness should have been heightened by RSPCA’s prior involvement. You were also aware of the prosecution of your brother.  You showed little concern and no understanding that there was an issue.”

A statement from the RSPCA said the prosecution counsel informed the Court that when Mr Hettner finally got a veterinarian out to his property, he failed to provide to her a copy of a pathology report showing that his cattle were near death.

Moreover, he told the vet that the blood results showed that there were no mineral deficiencies – in direct contrast to the actual findings of the report.

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