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JOE AND MARG HIGHAM

Prosecution of Dog Lovers

I found the following story appalling. Elderly pensioners who loved dogs and ran a sanctuary for them were pursued as hardened criminals, with the threat of gaol. Wilful animal cruelty is abhorrent but the Highams were not in this category.  It will be noted that the couple still had 70 to 100 dogs in May 2008, yet were being prosecuted on 11 charges. Obviously most of the dogs had no problems.

I spoke to Joe Higham by telephone several times. He said that he had been harassed by the RSPCA at one time, because some sick dogs had not seen by a vet. His other dogs, with exactly the same symptoms, had been taken to a vet and diagnosed so he knew what to do, yet he was prosecuted because the dogs had not seen a vet.
The most recent charges vary according to who wrote the article.
I did not see the Higham’s dogs on television but a South Australian resident assured me that the dogs looked healthy and happy. Most were “euthanased” by the RSPCA.

No delay for Dog abuse trial   November 20, 2007
Article from: SEAN FEWSTER

A COUPLE accused of Australia's worst animal hoarding case cannot afford to pay their lawyers, a court has heard.

Joseph and Margaret Higham claim they are not ready to stand trial for allegedly mistreating almost 200 dogs at their country property.

But the Adelaide Magistrates Court yesterday refused to vacate their December 18 trial, ordering it go ahead as planned.

The couple - of Sutherland, 115 km north of Adelaide - have pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of ill-treating an animal.

The charges relate to an RSPCA raid in February, when officers seized 120 dogs allegedly suffering from mange, fleas and a variety of illnesses requiring medical treatment.

Officers were forced to leave 70 animals behind and eventually destroyed 70 of those seized. It is understood that just three of the seized dogs are still alive.
Yesterday, Ursula Matson, for the couple, asked for permission to withdraw from the case.

"The good news is I have managed to obtain my clients' instructions and they are to obtain a veterinarian report," she said.

"The bad news is that... the Highams have simply been unable to fulfil their contractual requirements to our firm - it's really just not feasible for them." She asked Magistrate Alfio Grasso to vacate the trial date - a move opposed by prosecutor Andrew Charlton.

He said the case had been plagued by delays since April.
He ordered the Highams to attend court in two weeks for a pre-trial hearing.

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www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/05/01/2233069.htm    Thur May 1 2008

RSPCA plea to find dog couple
A couple facing prison for keeping up to 100 dogs in appalling conditions has avoided arrest in the Murray Mallee.
SA police and RSPCA officers raided a property in Cobera this morning looking for Joseph and Margarete Higham.
But the pair had already fled, taking the animals with them in a caged trailer.
A warrant was issued for the Highams yesterday after they were convicted of mistreating 11 dogs but failed to appear in court.
Aimee Mckay from the RSPCA has pleaded with the public to look out for the couple.
"They seem to be moving closer and closer to the border and that will certainly complicate things, so we're certainly putting out a plea to the South Australian public to be on the lookout for an elderly couple with certainly 70 to 100 dogs," she said.
The RSPCA says it will apply to extradite the Highams if they move interstate.
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www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/05/16/2247045.htm?section=justin  16 May 2008

Dog cruelty woman found in Victoria
Margerete Higham has been arrested by Victorian authorities. (ABC News)
One of two people convicted of 11 counts of animal cruelty by the South Australian court recently has been tracked down by the RSPCA and arrested by Victorian authorities.
Margarete Higham, 76, and her husband Joseph fled their home in the Murraylands district, east of Adelaide, with about 100 dogs in a trailer after a warrant was issued for their arrests.
Mrs Higham has been tracked down at Casterton in western Victoria with the dogs, many of which are puppies.
A search continues for her husband, who is wanted by police in South Australia and New South Wales.
Mrs Higham is to face court at Warrnambool where SA authorities will apply to extradite her.
The RSPCA says it now has a difficult job examining the many dogs and finding longer-term care for them.
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www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,23721508-2682,00.html  19 May 2008

Fugitive dog hoarder Joseph Higham says joint charges 'unfair'
SEAN FEWSTER, LIZA KAPPELLE

A SOUTH Australian man convicted of horrendous dog cruelty charges has told a hospital bedside hearing it was unfair he and his wife had been jointly charged.
Joseph Higham, 66, and his wife Margarete, 74, had skipped the Adelaide Magistrate's Court trial that convicted them of 11 charges last month and fled before an arrest warrant was issued.

The charges related to about 170 dogs seized after RSPCA raids on properties at Swan Reach, east of Adelaide, and Eudunda, north of the city, in 2006 and 2007.
About 70 of the dogs suffering a range of problems, including serious worms, severe cases of mange and infected wounds, were destroyed.

After their conviction a warrant was issued for the Highams' arrest - but they had already fled with more than 100 dogs.

Mrs Higham was tracked down in western Victoria on Friday with 122 dogs, three of which were put down.

Her husband was found at a backpackers hostel in Adelaide, and faced Magistrate Cathy Deland at a bedside hearing in Royal Adelaide Hospital today.
Dressed in hospital garb and appearing shaky, the white haired and bearded Higham said he was "very confused" about why his wife had been remanded in custody.
"It seems so long," Higham said.

Higham also asked why he and his wife had both been charged with 11 cruelty offences.

"Which, if you don't mind me saying so, is unfair, it's like a double whammy for the same family, there are 11 animals involved and it turns into 22."
He did not apply for bail and was remanded for sentencing on Monday in the Adelaide Magistrate's Court, his health permitting.

Russell Jarman of the SA RSPCA later said the organisation's Victorian branch was caring for the dogs.

"There are puppies present, on the whole most of them are in reasonable condition, however keeping them in such large numbers puts them at risk of fighting and everything else," Mr Jarman said.