Court finds Gallop Stable guilty of animal cruelty

Sharpy was found in poor condition with severe inflammation and infection of the right hind leg.
Sharpy was found in poor condition with severe inflammation and infection of the right hind leg. PHOTO: AVA
A 17-year-old thoroughbred mare named Sharpy was found with injuries in May 2013.
A 17-year-old thoroughbred mare named Sharpy was found with injuries in May 2013.PHOTO: AVA

SINGAPORE - A local stable was found guilty on Friday (April 28) of animal cruelty by failing to provide adequate veterinary attention to a 17-year-old chestnut thoroughbred mare.

District Judge Lim Keng Yeow convicted Gallop Stable Singapore, after an eight-day trial, of having caused unnecessary suffering to Sharpy, the mare, at its ranch in Pasir Ris Green on or before May 15, 2013.

Sharpy was found in poor condition with severe inflammation and infection of the right hind leg. It also had a swollen left hind leg.

Dr Wendy Toh, who was then working for the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), was at the premises on May 15, 2013, acting on a different tip-off when she spotted the thin and weak horse lying in its stable.

It did not get up even when she went close to it.

There was a large wound on its right hind leg, its left thigh was swollen and flies were circling its eyes.

The horse was helped to its feet with some effort. When given water, it drank with its mouth instead of lapping it as horses normally do. It was also breathing three times more quickly and more heavily than a horse normally would.

The next day, another vet taught stable staff to wash the horse's wounds twice a day.

But just three days later, she had to use forceps to remove maggots burrowed deep in a wound - something that would not have happened had her instructions been followed.

In his brief grounds, Judge Lim found that Gallop Stable had not sought veterinarian attention and had not even intended to do so until Dr Toh insisted it be done immediately when she first saw it.

Given that Sharpy's injuries were serious and could deteriorate quickly, obtaining veterinarian attention was already a matter of grave urgency, he said.

"Despite that, no vet has been called and no intention to call a vet has been formed, until the accused was so prompted by Dr Toh's intervention," he said.

He said clearly, an omission to call a vet despite being fully aware of Sharpy's suffering would be "quite unconscionable".

The defence, represented by Mr Simon Tan, is that Sharpy's condition was a result of a sudden onset of cellulitis (bacterial infection of the skin and tissues beneath the skin).

Its case is also that at all times before May 15, 2013, all Sharpy suffered from was a swelling on its right hind leg.

The case was adjourned to May 19 for mitigation and sentencing.

The maximum punishment for the offence is a $10,000 fine.