Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Too Fat? Too Thin? British Court Faces Conflict Over "Abused" Horse with Cushings Disease

A magistrate in Norwich, England is learning a lot about Cushings disease this week, according to newspaper reports. A pony seized by animal welfare officials had been a family pet for 20 years. Following their veterinarian's advice, the owners kept the pony in a very lean condition score to prevent laminitis as a complication of the Cushings disease that the pony suffered.

The pony had already suffered laminitis.

The owners said they were quite surprised when animal welfare authorities seized the pony, claiming it was emaciated. The pony was sound at the time of seizure.

The pony's veterinarian testified in court that the condition of the pony was not abusively thin, and that the owners were trying to be kind to the pony and avoid a recurrence of laminitis.

According to newspaper reports, the vet representing the animal welfare agency testified that the horse had suffered muscle wastage and fat loss as a result of poor care.

In the USA a few years ago, a well-meaning welfare agency seized two thin ponies in New Jersey. The owner claimed they were being kept intentionally lean to avoid laminitis. The welfare agency, wanting to be kind, plumped up the ponies while they were in custody. The ponies developed laminitis and the owner sued the welfare agency.

In other court cases this year in Britain, horse owners were prosecuted for allowing horses to become too fat, putting them at risk for laminitis.