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SPCA secures 20 year ban for puppy and kitten farm cruelty

Tuesday, 3 July, 2012

Former international dog show judge, David Neil Balfour and his wife Daryl Kirsty Reid Balfour were sentenced by Judge Grant Fraser in the Palmerston North District Court on Friday 29 June 2012, for animal cruelty offences which occurred at their puppy and kitten farming operation in Dannevirke in March 2007.

Mr and Mrs Balfour were fined $12,500 each on the three charges on which they were convicted. The Judge ordered that the total $25,000 fines be paid to the SPCA.

The couple were also disqualified for owning or exercising authority over cats and dogs for a period of 20 years.

SPCA National CEO Robyn Kippenberger said that dealing with a puppy and kitten farming venture on this scale was a first for New Zealand.

“This long term disqualification of the Balfours will prevent them from breeding and inflicting further cruelty on other animals,” Ms Kippenberger said. “We are pleased with the length of the disqualification which, given the age of the defendants, is effectively a lifetime ban."

During the 2011 defended hearing, evidence was heard that, upon investigation, SPCA animal welfare inspectors found 161 cats and kittens and 87 dogs and pups in atrocious conditions on the Balfours’ Dannevirke property. Such was the state of the animals that approximately half of the cats and kittens were found to be suffering from acute disease and had to be euthanised to prevent their continued suffering and further spread of disease to other animals. The Balfours voluntarily destroyed approximately half of the dogs.

Evidence was given in respect of the filthy living conditions of the animals with the smell of urine and faeces so strong that experienced inspectors were retching from the fumes.

During the defended hearing, accusations made by the Balfours that sick animals were imported onto their property to make things look considerably worse were unequivocally rejected by Judge Fraser.

Judge Fraser said he had absolutely no doubt that the offending was serious both in its type and in the significant numbers of animals.

“This was not just technical offending,” he said. “It had a serious impact on a large number of cats and kittens and on a lesser number of dogs.”

“It is necessary for the Court to make you accountable for the substantial harm done to these animals,” he told the offending couple. He went on to say that for animals with heightened senses, the levels of suffering did not bear thinking about.

“This case has taken an enormous amount of time and effort for the SPCA,” said Ms Kippenberger. “Finally we have assurance that the Balfours cannot repeat their cruelty – that makes our work for the animals worthwhile.”