Skip to comments.Lifetime ban, jail for letting cattle starve
Posted on 02/03/2014 2:46:09 AM PST by rickmichaels
A former Manitoba farmer who allowed his cattle herd to starve has been sentenced to 45 days in jail and prohibited from keeping livestock for life.
Thomas Jeffrey McLean, 49, will be allowed to serve his sentence on weekends.
McLean pleaded guilty to 13 Animal Care Act offences after animal welfare officials were called to his RM [Rural Municipality] of Louise farm and found 67 dead cattle and another 52 in an emaciated state. Many of the surviving animals were later euthanized.
"It's disturbing to think of the number of animals that were the subject of neglect and suffering," said Judge Mary Kate Harvie. "It's important to remember that each animal in that herd that succumbed to starvation or had to be euthanized would have suffered enormously.
Lawyers for the Crown and defence jointly recommended Harvie fine McLean. Harvie said a non-custodial sentence was "wholly inadequate" given the McLean's "egregious" actions and the suffering he inflicted on the animals.
At a sentencing hearing last November, Crown attorney Sean Sass argued McLean intentionally starved the animals in an effort to diminish the value of his mother's estate. Court heard the farm property was the subject of a bitter court fight between McLean and other family members.
Harvie did not accept the argument as the Crown called no evidence to support it.
Defence lawyer Gavin Wood said as a result of the estate fight, McLean lost access to 90 acres of land he used to feed the animals. He also suggested McLean suffered an emotional breakdown.
Harvie said McLean knew there were government programs available to help him feed the animals. Instead he piled the dead cattle in a machine shed and crammed the surviving animals in crowded pens.
In one disturbing incident, McLean allowed a pregnant cow to die with a fetus wedged in its vulva. Harvie said the issue could have been easily remedied with intervention, but McLean instead moved the cow to a barn and made no effort to assist it.
"The conduct of the accused betrays his experience," Harvie said. "He is not someone who dabbled in cattle farming and got in over his head. He's a lifetime and experienced cattle farmer. As such, he knew he had other options."
Can’t give the cattle away, or is it difficult to do that?
Something doesn’t sound right here.
um... why let them starve when he could of sold them for meat... something doesn’t add up here.
Trapping Feral Pigs and Other Parables of Modern Life
8. Hungry Horses
If you read a lot, you will run across these stories a few times a year. As a recurring phenomenon it’s not as well known as some of the others, but it happens often enough to merit attention. Do an internet search on starving horses, and you will find many such sad stories. Typically, a utility company repairman, meter reader, contractor or salesman will visit a remote ranch or farm and be horrified at the sight of dozens or more starving horses or cows. There may even be dead livestock on the ground. The witness informs the sheriff, who comes out and arrests the land owner for animal cruelty and other charges.
The land owner will usually end up doing prison time, often for what he believes was no crime. He was merely doing the best he could, but times were hard. He had lost his job or been injured, but bottom line, he couldn’t afford trips to the feed store. They were just plain hungry times, they were all hungry, but the livestock would fatten up again just as soon as he got enough money for the feed, or the drought ended and greened up the fields. And its going to rain any day now.
This dynamic recalls Confederate Major Henry Wirz, the commander of the open-air POW camp at Andersonville, Georgia. Everybody was hungry, civilian, military and prisoner. They were hungry times. There was no food to give the detainees. Nobody had a plan for the Union POWs, except to corral them in a given location. In the year before April 1865, nearly one-third of the 45,000 Union prisoners died. Wirz was hanged in Washington late in 1865, after one of the first American war-crime trials, yet to this day many believe he got a raw deal. After all, his apologists say, he was doing the best he could under the terrible circumstances.
The moral of the story: The guy who is starving you may sincerely be trying to feed you, but his best efforts might not be enough. In the end, if you are penned in, you can be killed by simple starvation and neglect, requiring no directly malign intention by your captors. Starvation just happens naturally when insufficient food is coming into the enclosure.
As my screen name alludes, I’m a lifelong rancher and cattleman. I truly cannot comprehend what this man did. If these animals were visible from a public road, I’m also disappointed no one intervened earlier. I run about 300 head of brood cattle and take pride in how my animals are treated. There is not a single electric cattle prod on my ranch, and when we get the cattle up for periodic vaccinations, fly and parasite treatments and any other necessary treatments, not only do we not shock or poke the animals into the headgate, we don’t even raise our voices. We use a reward system. The cows are allowed to eat sweet feed while in the headgate, and we reward them with sweet feed and range cubes after they’re treated. I have a contract with a nearby apple grower to purchase his fruit that doesn’t grade out, and we surprise the cows with troughs of apples. I can even hide apples in my vest pocket and the cows will fish them out with their tongues. Right now in winter, the cows have access to hay and range meal (a protein and mineral supplement) 24/7. We also use well water in our stock tanks.
I’m glad to hear you treat your animals so well. God Bless you.