A 62-YEAR-OLD MAN who left a horse by the side of the road with severe injuries after it was dragged 400m behind a horse float has avoided a conviction being recorded against him after the court ruled there were significant mitigating circumstances.
Anton Klemens yesterday pleaded guilty in Bundaberg Magistrates Court to one count of cruelty to an animal and one of breaching a duty of care to the animal.
On November 7, 2013 Klemens was trying to transport a horse owned by his wife who was in intensive care in hospital after a car accident left her with permanent mental health issues.
Caring for his five children aged eight to 16, Klemens had his 13-year-old daughter with him at Bucca when the horse refused to get into the float.
The court heard Klemens chose instead to tie the horse to the back of the float.
Magistrate Deb Vasta said Klemens intended for the horse to trot behind the float for some 26km, but at some point, the horse was obscured from his vision and unbeknown to the defendant, it fell and was dragged along the ground for 400m before he realised and stopped the vehicle.
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES
The horse sustained significant grazes and the skin was removed from both sides of its body, legs and face.
"Your daughter was understandably traumatised and you didn't quite know what to do," Mrs Vasta said.
Moving the horse off the road to avoid it being hit by a car, Klemens left the animal there and took his daughter home.
With very little knowledge about horses, Klemens phoned his wife who suggested he call some other people for help, which he did, but it wasn't until 8.30pm that he returned to the injured horse.
"I accept you did not fully appreciate the significance of the injuries to the animal," Mrs Vasta said.
The magistrate ruled that Klemens did not intentionally try to harm the horse but had failed to in his duty of care by not responding to its injuries.
Klemens was given a fine of $1500 and 12 months probation, he is also paying off the $4000 vet bill.
The horse, now named Hope, was transported into the care of vet Rohan Miller of North Bundaberg Vets and his partner Emma Bulmer.
Miss Bulmer said she spent five weeks washing the wounds three times a day, a "horrible" task which stressed the animal.
"She was in so much pain I cried doing it to her because I knew how much pain she had already been through," she said.
"I've never seen anything like it.
"For eight months we had to modify her food because she couldn't feel her mouth because the reins had pulled so hard and damaged the nerves."
Miss Bulmer said Hope was too scared to lie down for fear of being injured but is now 100% healthy.
"She is spoilt, plenty of carrots and sweet potatoes," she said.
Miss Bulmer said she planned to keep Hope as her daughter's pony.