DR Noel Nadesan
On a freezing Melbourne winter morning, gusty winds were blowing an icy chill through my bones. I stood shivering in front of a magistrate court in Melbourne, cursing an Egyptian named Ibrahim. The cold weather and my disgust irritated me badly but I waited patiently not knowing when my name would be called out as a witness. As a witness, I was aware that I would have to recount the events that brought me to courts. I was arranging my thoughts in some sequence as I knew I would be questioned in court. At the same time I did some introspection to find out why it became necessary for me to become involved in this court case. The unfolding events reeled like a film in my mind.
The day was Sunday; I had a busy day filled with many appointments to tend to sick animals at the veterinary Hospital. Among them was a lamb. An Arab-looking man entered my clinic carrying a white lamb held tightly against his chest. His hooked nose, beard and the lamb reminded me the wall paintings in a medieval church.
I requested him to place the lamb on my examination table. In a casual chat I discussed the problem that brought him and the lamb to the veterinary Hospital. His broken English made it difficult for me to understanding his narrative at times.
I noted several infected wounds oozing with sanguineous fluid above all hooves on the poor lamb. It was clear to me that this was a case of neglect as the tropical sores that had festered badly. The stench that emanated from the wounds made me feel somewhat sick as if my nose was getting pierced. I probed politely to find out why the poor lamb was in such poor condition.
The man explained that to prevent the lamb from escaping and getting lost, he had tied all four limbs with rope. The friction caused by the rough rope had caused the sores. I couldn’t tell him that his actions were stupid but hinted gently that the lamb should not have been tied in this manner. I cleaned all four wounds and applied medicine to treat the sores and sent him on his way.
After two weeks time I was visited by an RSPCA inspector and introduced himself as Alexander. He came to discuss a case of cruelty to animals. He showed me many photographs of lambs taken from different angles and inquired whether I could identify one. They all looked similar to me and it was hard to remember. I did however inform the inspector of the man that brought a lamb to the clinic a couple of weeks ago. I discussed the condition of the lamb and the festering wounds I found. I had provided the gentleman with a detailed report I had done as treatment. The RSPCA inspector was concerned and asked whether I could identify this man again.
I gave a detailed description as best as I could, I mentioned that his beard resembled that of Jesus and his name was Ibrahim. At this stage I was quite interested as to why this inspector has come to my hospital with these questions. The inspector was quite ready to tell his side of the story. It was quite revealing. He told me that the lamb belonged to a man named Saleem. Ibrahim was Saleem’s friend who could not use a lawn mower to mow the grass on his property due to his back injury. This lamb used to graze in the rear garden of his home. He used this lamb as lawn mower to keep the grass down in his backyard. Ibrahim had tied all four legs to prevent the lamb from straying into other gardens.
A neighbour who had seen the lamb being tied so cruelly complained to the RSPCA. A case was then filed against Ibrahim and the lamb was seized and transferred to an animal farm.
I was waiting at the entrance of the court, my legs aching and pretty annoyed with the system that was making me wait.. Inspector Smith made his way over to me, informing me that without my evidence Ibrahim had pleaded guilty. A fine of eight hundred dollars was imposed on him, which he had paid on the spot..
I thought that Ibrahim could have purchased a decent lawn mower for far less than eight hundred dollars. Was he so foolish, I asked myself?