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Kaikohe woman who starved dog to death sentenced

Kaikohe woman who starved dog to death sentenced

A Kaikohe woman who chained up a dog and starved it to death was sentenced today in the Kaikohe District Court.

Nadia Hayley Tauteka, 37, was convicted of failing to ensure the physical, health, and behavioural needs of an animal were met by failing to provide sufficient food and water, and failing to allow the animal to display normal patterns of behaviour. She was also convicted of failing to ensure an animal received treatment to alleviate unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress.

She was sentenced to 150 hours of community service, ordered to pay court costs of $150 and reparations of $592.59, and disqualified from owning dogs for 5 years.

On 8 April 2013, two Bay of Islands SPCA Inspectors visited a Kaikohe property. They were acting on information received from a Housing New Zealand Property Manager who said the tenants who had been living at the property had moved out and left behind two dogs, one of which was dead.

The Inspectors visited the property and found the house deserted. They soon discovered the dead dog lying on a pile of rubbish and covered with a foam mattress on the back lawn. There was no sign of a second dog.

The dead dog was extremely thin with its hips, ribs, spine, and shoulder bones all sharp and clearly obvious. His flanks were sunken and there were sores on his pin bones. His body was covered with fleas and fly eggs had been laid around his mouth. He was tethered by the neck with a thick chain that was over 3m long and weighed 3.7kg – almost half the weight of the dog.

Veterinary examination and necropsy revealed the dog was in extremely poor body condition, with an estimated body condition score of 1 out of 9 (with 1 being emaciated and 9 being obese). On the left side of the dog’s neck was a shallow skin wound, which would have caused pain and was probably caused by the chain. The dog’s small intestine contained dozens of hookworms and there were dozens of live fleas scattered over his skin. The stomach and intestinal tract did not contain any food.

The veterinarian concluded that the cause of death was chronic parasitism and starvation, and that the parasite burdens and emaciation would have caused chronic suffering and distress to the dog. The veterinarian further commented that tethering the dog in one location for a prolonged period could have increased the dog’s exposure to flea pupae and hookworm larvae arising from faeces, which would have worsened his parasite burden.

When interviewed on 14 April 2013, the defendant confirmed that she was in charge of the dead dog, having picked it up on the side of the road several weeks earlier and taken it home. She had chained him up to the fence beside a dog kennel and never let him off the chain until he died. She said she last saw the dog on 5 April 2013 when she moved out.

She acknowledged that the dog was thin and sickly but didn't seek treatment because she didn't have time, and she didn't worm him because she didn't think of it.

“We see appalling cases of casual neglect just like this one far too often,” says Ric Odom, CEO of the Royal New Zealand SPCA.

“Most of us tend to assume that any normal person would never chain a dog up and starve it to death – but clearly there are people in our community who are capable of doing exactly that. So we need members of the public to step up and report any cases of animal neglect or abuse they see. The sooner we know what’s going on, the better chance we have of saving the animal involved.”


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