The owner of a five-month-old foal that was euthanased on Friday says she did everything she could for the animal, and criticism on social media has been blown out of proportion.

The foal was destroyed by a veterinarian on Friday, three days after SPCA inspectors visited the property at Hukatere, 17km north of Waipapakauri Ramp, and met owner Gabrielle Pfaender to discuss its care, and that of nine other horses.

SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen said on Friday afternoon that a veterinarian had been called to inspect the foal and the horses four weeks earlier. The foal had been sick and was not responding to supplementary food. Earlier in the week Ms Pfaender had made the decision to mitigate its suffering and to have it euthanased.

However, after further advice was sought, and after discussions between the SPCA inspectors, the veterinarian and Ms Pfaender, it had been agreed to give the foal "a second chance". It had been moved to another property and was undergoing an intensive care regime.


A little over an hour later she released a further statement, saying that the foal's health had deteriorated to a point where the veterinarian had to make the decision to euthanase it.

"We were hopeful that the foal could have recovered, but support the veterinarian's decision and know it was the only one possible given the circumstances," Ms Midgen said.

"Unfortunately there are times where despite veterinary treatment, an animal is in pain and suffering, and there is nothing else we, or anyone else, can do to mitigate this. In those circumstances, euthanasia is the best option for that animal."

SPCA inspectors were happy that the needs of the rest of the herd were being met. They would continue to monitor the situation and work with the owner.

Ms Pfaender said she was upset that the animal had to be put down.

"There was one little foal that didn't do well. We tried everything possible, and had a vet involved, and it's now out of its misery. We are thankful for offers to help with this foal, but it just wasn't going to make it," she said.

The remaining nine horses were in good condition, but she would rehome them as soon as possible.

Meanwhile a post on social media attracted a number of negative comments about Ms Pfaender, and the SPCA. Those comments, and the original post, were taken down late last week.

A spokesperson for the NZ Horse Welfare Coalition said the organisation had been made aware of the horses and foal on Wednesday, but understood that members of the public had contacted the SPCA on March 26.

NZHWC had contacted the owner twice to offer financial assistance, medical care and support, and asked her to sign the foal over to it. Those offers were refused. She had been told that the foal was to be euthanased.