Collie woman Nikki Mulreany convicted of horse-related cruelty after horses found suffering from dehydration
A 30-year-old woman has become the third person to have been convicted of horse-related cruelty charges in Collie this year, just two months after a couple was banned from owning horses for life.
Nikki Mulreany, 30, was fined $22,500 and ordered to pay more than $3000 in costs after pleading guilty to two counts of not taking responsible steps to prevent an animal suffering harm.
Mulreany was also barred from owning or being in contact with horses for 10 years.
The court heard RSPCA inspectors were called to Mulreany’s property in April 2019 after receiving an animal cruelty complaint.
After Mulreany failed to answer the door, the inspectors found a bay gelding named Sunny and a chestnut mare named Xanadu without any water and just half a bale of poor quality hay in the paddock.
The inspectors filled a bucket with water and gave it to the horses who drank thirstily, even trying to “suck” water from the ground when they kicked the bucket over.
When local veterinarians were called, both horses began to tremble and spasm with Sunny suffering with severe dehydration, starvation and emaciation while Xanadu had signs of dehydration and physiological stress.
Further examinations showed Sunny’s condition continued to deteriorate, suffering with seizures as well as acute renal failure, forcing the vets to euthanise Sunny.
Xanadu was found to be underweight and dehydrated with long and badly cracked hooves and poor teeth and was started on a course of treatment.
Xanadu has since fully recovered and has been adopted.
In submissions, duty lawyer Gemma Horstman told the court Mulreany was suffering with poor mental health as well as cancer scare that predated the offending.
Ms Horstman said while Mulreany’s actions were not deliberate, it was accepted that she was “never able to appreciate the high level of care they needed”.
It was further submitted that Mulreany was anxious about asking for help with looking after the horses out of fear she would be ridiculed because they were the first horses she owned.
In sentencing, Magistrate Belinda Coleman said there was “absolutely no doubt” Mulreany neglected Sunny and Xanadu for months and months.
“The amount of suffering goes without saying, it is your responsibility to understand how to take care of these animals,” she said.
It comes just two months after couple Rhys Cochrane, 29, and April Gulbertie, 28, were banned from owning horses for life and ordered to pay $80,000 after they were found guilty of appalling animal cruelty offences which left one horse with its spine exposed from a large wound.
Mr Cochrane and Ms Gulbertie’s 2018 abuse saw a thoroughbred gelding named George and pony named Robin both emaciated with severe lice infestations on the pair’s family farm, where they lived until they were taken into the RSPCA’s care.
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