Illegal Castration of Horses Rife in New Zealand

According to The New Zealand Herald, castration of horses by lay persons is a recurring problem in the country. Two individuals have been convicted of the procedure in recent weeks, and one horse has died following its castration.

"Opotiki justice of the peace George Hata, 69, was convicted in the Tauranga District Court yesterday (Oct. 3) of castrating a 9-month-old colt without reasonable cause," said the Herald report. "His conviction follows that of Northland man Maxwell Joseph Lee Anderson, 37, who was last month found guilty of castrating a 2-year-old colt without anesthetic."

Another individual was convicted of illegal equine castration in 2000 and was ordered to pay $3,000 (NZD, roughly $1,980 USD) in fines and costs.

Anderson's horse died two days after the procedure, while Hata's horse survived.

"Both men will be sentenced this month and face a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a $25,000 fine under the Animal Welfare Act," the article continued. The act, which was passed in 1999, deems castration a "significant surgical procedure." In New Zealand, a castration must be performed by a veterinarian or an individual under direct supervision of a veterinarian, and anesthesia must be used. The Herald reports that the Animals Protection Act, which was passed in 1960, also requires anesthesia for castration procedures.

Animal welfare authorities and veterinarians say the practice remains common, especially in poor, rural areas. One local veterinarian who was a witness in the Hata case said that the number of geldings in at least one area of the country far outnumbers the count of castration surgeries performed by licensed veterinarians.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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