A Whangarei woman who let her horse starve to death will be allowed to keep more than 143 other animals, at least for the next eight weeks.
Auckland High Court Justice Mark Woodford said, in a decision released yesterday, there was no evidence the animals were in poor condition.
Anne Power was found guilty in the Auckland District Court earlier this month of recklessly ill-treating a horse, leading to its death in 2013.
She was forbidden from owning animals for 10 years and ordered to surrender any animals she owned. Last week Power, who now lives near Whangarei, appealed the conviction and sentence with Justice Woodford yesterday ruling she was allowed to keep them until the appeal hearing on August 10.
Power described the care of her animals as her mission in life or her reason to live.
In his decision, Justice Woodford said it did not prevent the SPCA from seizing the animals if there were concerns over their welfare.
"The SPCA retains the statutory power to enter on to private property and seize any animal if it has been ill-treated," he said.
According to the SPCA, it was unclear exactly how many animals Power owned as they were over a number of properties in different regions, including Auckland and Northland, and she tended to move them around. There were at least 143, although it was possible there were more.
The primary concern of the court was the welfare of the animals and there was no strong evidence they were in poor condition, Justice Woodford said.
Before Power managed to lodge the appeal, the SPCA uplifted 45 of her mainly Highland cattle from a Whatitiri property yesterday. The animals appeared to be in good condition and were to be sold at the Kauri stock sales on Tuesday.
At the same time they took two horses which were transported to Auckland for veterinary treatment.
The decision noted the SPCA had no plans to seize all of Power's animals.
"The SPCA acknowledges it does not have the resources, both in terms of finances and labour, to meet the welfare needs of the animals for an extended period of time," Justice Woodford said.
The SPCA had proposed looking after the welfare of the animals until appeal - but charge Power $6564 a week to do this, which she was unable to afford.
Judge Nevin Dawson said the way in which Power's 32-year-old horse was allowed to starve was "sickening". When the horse's death at a property at Riverhead, north-west of Auckland, was investigated by the SPCA, a neighbour reported seeing it collapse and die, then saw a dog gnawing on the corpse.
Power, who has been labelled an "animal hoarder", has multiple animal welfare-related convictions.