Injured bull brings $2500 cruelty fine

30 Jun, 2004 10:00 PM
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A DENMARK cattle producer says he should have received a warning instead of being convicted for animal cruelty when transporting an injured bull to Harvey for slaughter last year.

Terry Murphy, who runs 70 breeders, was fined $2500 and ordered to pay costs of $1884 in the Albany Court of Petty Sessions two weeks ago under new animal cruelty legislation.

The legislation took effect in April last year, three months before Mr Murphy emptied out a double horse float and used it to transport his injured bull to the Harvey Beef abattoir.

Mr Murphy said he did not know the bullís leg was broken, believing it could have been an injured ligament as there were no bones protruding.

He said a vet at the abattoir could not tell if the leg was broken and that the bull could have injured itself while serving a cow.

Mr Murphy said he had treated the bull with antibiotics and also never heard it bellow out. ìNinety nine per cent of the time they come right,î he said.

He received a summons six months after delivering the bull to the abattoir and decided to take the fine and criminal record instead of appealing the decision which could have cost him $30,000 in legal fees.

He said the RSPCA would have wanted him to shoot the animal on the property and received $50 for pet food rather than the $700 he received for the animal at the abattoir.

Mr Murphy said he had been hand feeding the bull until he realised the leg wasn't improving and decided to take it to the abattoir.

"You would never get a carrier to take one bull," he said.

"I will have to sell cattle to pay the fine."

He said an RSPCA's media statement confirmed what he believed - that farmers weren't aware of the new animal cruelty guidelines.

Mr Murphy said the RSPCA made an example of him under the new legislation.

"To put legislation out with no guidelines stinks," he said.

RSPCA spokeswoman Kelly Oversby said that when the RSPCA interviewed Mr Murphy he said the bull had not received any treatment for the broken leg.

She said Mr Murphy also said he was aware the bull was not bearing weight on all four legs when he had loaded it for transport.

"This is just isn't good enough," she said.

Ms Oversby said the case was contested demonstrated there were still people out there who didn't know what was and was not fit for transport when it came to livestock.

"The case highlights the urgent need for guidelines for farmers, to educate them on what was fit for transport," she said.

On receival of the bull, abattoir staff shot the bull and reported the incident to the RSPCA.

Under the new Animal Welfare Act, farmers, truck drivers, stock agents, vets who transport stock with conditions that cause animals unnecessary harm could face a minimum fine of $2000 and a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to five years prison.

Conditions which deem animals unfit for transport include lameness, swelling, protrusions, swollen udders and testicles, cancers of the eye and nose for example, and animals in late stages of pregnancy.

The RSPCA says animals considered unfit for transport should be treated or slaughtered on the farm.

More than 100 general inspectors were to be appointed from state and local governments to assist RSPCA inspectors in administration of the new bill.

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