News.com.au; Dec 18, 2011
THE head of the RSPCA will appear in a Sydney court on Monday over alleged aggravated cruelty to a horse.
In a statement, the NSW minister responsible for the RSPCA, Katrina Hodgkinson, said the charges against its president, Dr Peter Wright, were being brought by a private individual.
“The offences allege that Mr Wright performed veterinary dental work on a horse at Goulburn on about 22 July 2011 and in so doing committed acts of cruelty and aggravated cruelty upon the animal,” Ms Hodginkson said.
She said the complainant had contacted her department asking consent to bring the proceedings as a private individual.
However, consent was denied and he was advised to go in the first instance to either the RSPCA, the Animal Welfare League or NSW police.
“There does not seem to me to be any reason why it would be inappropriate for (the complainant) to refer his concerns to one or both of NSW animal welfare league and/or the NSW police,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
Dr Wright was absent from a Sunday media announcement that the NSW government was contributing $7.5 million towards refurbishing the organisation’s Yagoona animal shelter, in Sydney’s southwest.
Media were informed he was absent because of a family illness before NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell fielded questions about his court appearance.
“The rules apply to everybody, whether you’re associated with an organisation or you’re a member of the public,” Mr O’Farrell said when asked about the matter.
“There’s no favouritism. The laws apply equally and the courts get to determine whether or not charges are proven.”
Asked whether Dr Wright would be standing down from his position, RSPCA NSW CEO Steve Coleman responded: “That’s a matter for the courts”.
Court lists show Mr Wright is listed for mention in Downing Centre Local Court on Monday.