AUSTRALIA -- A West Australian couple have been fined a combined total of $80,000 after RSPCA inspectors made a gruesome discovery of animal cruelty on their rural property.
Melissa Sykes and Patrick Lawson were found to own 14 starving dogs and horses on a farm which also had decomposing animal carcasses littered on the ground in South Trayning, 250km east of Perth.
The pair were fined $40,000 each and were banned from owning or coming into contact with animals following a year-long investigation.
Ms Sykes and Mr Lawson were convicted over a series of horrific animal cruelty offences after the RSPCA seized three emaciated dogs, two of which were chained to a tree, and found 10 horses that had no access to proper food but were in fair health.
While cruelty charges often result in animal ownership bans, this case was considered so serious that the ban extends to contact with any animals, an RSPCA spokesman said.
'They can't be within three metres of an animal,' he said.
'If they go to a park and there's a dog there, they have to leave the park - it's very serious.'
RSPCA WA inspectors first attended the couple's property in March 2016, finding decomposing animal carcasses around the home and property. They included those of sheep, horses, chickens and emus.
The couple were told to provide sufficient food for the horses and to improve their health, but on a follow up visit their health had deteriorated and they were taken by the RSPCA.
Vets found two of the horses were pregnant and others were suffering from a range of other conditions including overgrown hooves, lice infestations and sand ingestion.
Chief inspector Amanda Swift said Ms Skyes and Mr Lawson had shown utter disregard and reckless indifference for the animals they were responsible for, and RSPCA were pleased with their sentence.
'Sadly we didn't get there in time for some of the animals, thank goodness we were able to rescue some and stop the suffering,' said Ms Swift.
'The ten-year prohibition order imposed on them which prevents them from being within metres of any animals reflects the severity of their actions. This speaks volumes about the seriousness of the cruelty and suffering these animals endured.'
The remaining animals were all rescued, placed in foster care and have made a full recovery.
The pair faced Merredin Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
(Daily Mail - April 13, 2017)