Petting farm owners guilty of ‘large-scale’ serious neglect
OWNERS of an animal petting farm business must pay more than $28,000 in vet costs after neglected and suffering animals were seized by RSPCA inspectors and taken into care.
Going before Ipswich Magistrates Court for sentence on animal welfare offences, Kylie Michelle Karner, 40, and Dayle Gosley, 44, a removalist from Lockrose, pleaded guilty to 41 charges.
These included 22 counts of failing to provide appropriate living conditions at a Mount Mort property; 12 counts of failing to provide adequate food and water; and seven counts of not providing adequate treatment for injury or disease.
The offences were committed two years ago with the court hearing they were now looking after less animals and had received a positive report.
Their business was also slowly improving.
RSPCA prosecutors, barrister Adrian Braithwaite and solicitor Xuan Huynh, said Gosley and Karner operated the ‘3 Ponies Petting Farm’ and failed in their duty of care.
The offences were detected when inspectors went to their rural property in April 2019.
An investigation began following an animal welfare complaint and inspectors found multiple dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, six guinea fowl, pigeons, doves, ponies, a donkey, geese, 12 piglets, eight sheep, calves, 17 goats, an owl, 28 chickens, a lama, an alpaca, 49 ducks, 23 cats along with other animals and birds on the 40 acre rental property.
Many were found to be in poor condition and some living around the decaying remains of dead animals.
“Significant welfare concerns were identified. There were hazards and faeces in water, no clean bedding,” Mr Braithwaite said.
“There were carcasses of a number of decaying animals.
“It was a large-scale example of serious neglect of a variety of species. In the context of being a commercial enterprise.
“There was widespread suffering of many animals for commercial gain.”
Issues and ailments detected include untreated skin conditions, worm infestation, underweight (emaciated) animals, dogs chained to trees, insufficient shelter, dental disease, flea infestations, mites, animals living in damp soils and faeces, overcrowded conditions, and “putrid” green water.
Five sheep were found infested with worms and parasites.
A chicken and nine chicks were in an overcrowded and soiled travel cage.
Mr Braithwaite said the RSPCA sought $28,000 to cover the veterinary care costs and a penalty of either a suspended jail term or supervised probation order.
He also sought a prohibition order allowing the couple to keep a greatly reduced number of animals that must be approved by the RSPCA chief inspector.
Magistrate Virginia Sturgess said there appeared to be an element of animal hoarding in the matter.
In her defence, Ms Karner expressed regret for the offences.
“We didn’t mean for this to go south. People kept saying can you take another animal,” she said.
“I’m a sort of bleeding-heart type of person who can’t say no.
“They say I’ll give you food for them. I would have food at the beginning.
“Then got hit by the drought.”
Ms Karner said she also had a leg injury and with Mr Gosley away working she struggled on her own.
“It all got on top of me,” she said.
Ms Karner said they had now, under RSPCA direction, reduced the number of animals.
“We are doing a very good job looking after them. The inspectors are very happy,” she said.
“I clean out the pens. It’s just the right amount of animals to take care of.
“I’ve learnt to say no.”
Mr Gosley said with him working away things had simply got on top of Ms Karner.
“So I help her. I’ve minimised my hours working away,” he said.
Ms Sturgess said they both accepted responsibility for their conduct and had surrendered animals.
There had been 41 breaches under the Animal Protection Act.
“You have fallen significantly short of that duty of care,” Ms Sturgess said.
“It is quite distressing to look at the photos showing the state of the property.
“There were carcasses of dead animals. It should have been obvious that something was going badly wrong.”
Ms Sturgess said it was apparent that the many animals had been clearly overwhelming, and both fell short of their duties of care to these animals.
“They are living creatures that deserve to be looked after properly,” she said.
Ms Karner and Mr Gosley were each sentenced to a two-year supervised probation order with no conviction recorded.
Under a Prohibition Order all animals in their care must be agreed to by the RSPCA.
Read more stories by Ross Irby here.