Anger over alleged animal cruelty

Barbara Steffensen from the Animal Rights & Rescue Group trades heated words with a friend of the accused outside Lismore Courthouse on Monday.
Barbara Steffensen from the Animal Rights & Rescue Group trades heated words with a friend of the accused outside Lismore Courthouse on Monday.

A Rosebank man appearing before Lismore Local Court for alleged animal cruelty on Monday was met by a group of angry protestors chanting the word "shame" and other derogatory remarks.

Paul Travill, 56, was facing charges brought before the court by the RSPCA for failing to provide adequate veterinary care to a horse. He pleaded not guilty and the case has been adjourned until June 1.

Mr Travill told reporters waiting outside the courthouse it was "all lies" while a friend of the accused confronted the activists in the street.

"I see the animals every day and I'd be at his throat if he was hurting them," the man said in a heated argument with Barbara Steffensen from the Animal Rights & Rescue Group.

Barbara and a group of local activists had been urging the RSPCA to prosecute the man for many months and activist Rebecca (who did not wish her surname printed) said they all had mixed feelings about the action that had been taken.

"Initially we were elated... but they've only charged him over one issue. It's not enough," Rebecca said. "The RSPCA has had a lot of bad press and out of the blue they do something about what we've been nagging them about for ages.

"We're happy to have his name out in the public but a bit reserved because the laws are still in place. There are no clear laws about tethering for instance (in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act) and we need that changed so animal abusers and neglecters can be charged. The protest is about sending a message that we're not going to stop fighting."

Rebecca said the adjournment was cause for concern as the horses could still be subject to neglect.

"We just want what's best for the horses... we've offered to take care of them before," Rebecca said. "We have bucketed up water to the animals on a roster basis throughout summer and will continue to do so. Our real fear now is he'll take this out on the horses."



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