Inquiries by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) into illegal horse castration in Hawke’s Bay and the wider East Coast have unearthed some concerning findings.
Unqualified people have been found carrying out this procedure not only for their own horses but as part of business enterprises.
MPI Wellington/Taranaki District Compliance Manager, Mike Green says that the findings of the inquiries revealed that illegal castration of horses is common in this area.
"It appears to be a practice that is well ingrained in the culture of the farming and rural community of the wider East Coast area with this service being utilised by many large station owners despite them knowing it to be illegal," says Mr Green.
"Horse castration is regarded as a significant surgical procedure and can only be carried out by a veterinarian or a veterinary undergraduate under the direct supervision of a veterinarian."
Penalties for offences in this area under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 carry a maximum fine of $50,000 or 12 months imprisonment.
"It has certainly been a veterinarian-only procedure for more than 50 years so there are no excuses for anyone being unaware of its status.
"We want to get the message across that continuation of this illegal practice may attract prosecution. This includes horse owners who allow the illegal castration of their horses, and people performing illegal castration of horses."
Veterinarians spoken to in the area say they can provide horse castration services in the more remote areas at reasonable prices provided horse owners plan and are prepared to group together for the same purpose or in conjunction with other veterinary visit needs.
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