Cattle Cruelty Attracts $47,000 Fine

Cattle Cruelty Attracts $47,000 Fine

A Kojonup farmer was today fined $47,000 on three counts and faces a three-year conditional ban prohibiting him from being in charge of animals. The ban is conditional on him obtaining livestock management advice and RSPCA Inspectors will supervise his property for the next three years.

Melvin John Hettner appeared in Narrogin Magistrates Court today for sentencing after being charged by RSPCA with animal cruelty. Mr Hettner has also been ordered to pay RSPCA $8,500 in costs.

On the day of trial, Melvin John 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).

The facts relate to several investigations of Mr Hettner’s property by RSPCA Inspectors between February 2011 and May 2011.

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

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. Magistrate Watt continued “You showed little concern and no understanding that there was an issue.”

Prosecution Counsel informed the Court that when 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.

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.