Heathcote wildlife carer loses licence

A Heathcote wildlife carer has had her licence cancelled after it was found she kept four paralysed kangaroos in squalid conditions for months.

Melissa Abbey was convicted in the Bendigo Magistrates Court earlier this month for failing to provide sufficient veterinary treatment to the kangaroos.

She did not attend the hearing, which was conducted ex-partae (without her present).

The RSPCA and Department of Sustainability and Environment had been told of suspected cruelty by a concerned neighbour.

When they visited Abbey’s rural property in December last year they found eight adult Eastern grey kangaroos, a joey and a musk lorikeet in bad condition.

“Several of them were recumbent, many had spinal injuries, most likely from being hit by a car,” RSPCA inspector Amy Benham said.

“Some had been in her care for several months without receiving vet treatment.”

Ms Benham said the day of the inspection two roos had to be euthanased by a vet. When she returned a week later, Abbey and the rest of the animals had “vanished”.

Ms Benham said a vet had told the court Abbey would not acknowledge problems with the animals’ housing and lack of appropriate care.

“Some were suffering from severe paralysis in urine-soaked bedding for months with no hope for recovery,” she said.

“The vet said she was not objective enough to see the problem, she had a distorted view of the evangelical role of a wildlife carer.

“The vet said she couldn’t see the best result was for these animals to be humanely euthanased.”

Abbey was fined $4000 and can no longer operate a wildlife shelter.

She was licensed to operate as a wildlife carer through the Department of Sustainability and Environment and was affiliated with Wildlife Victoria, which has since taken her off its contact list.

An RSPCA spokesman said he was “deeply saddened” by the incident and the suffering that the kangaroos endured, but was pleased with the magistrate’s decision. 

“We hope this sends a strong message to the community that failure to provide veterinary treatment to animals in need will not be tolerated by the RSPCA or the community,” the spokesman said.

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