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Palmerston North man ignored dog’s suffering for months

Palmerston North man ignored dog’s suffering for months

Tony Bruce Thornton ignored his dog’s misery for months despite the animal suffering from multiple illnesses, including obvious tumours and infections.

Thornton was convicted today in the Palmerston North District Court for failing to ensure his dog received treatment to alleviate unnecessary pain or distress, plus failing to provide proper and sufficient food and water.

He was sentenced to 120 hours of community work, ordered to pay reparations of $673.40, and disqualified from owning animals for 10 years.

On 13 April 2012 two SPCA Inspectors visited a property in Raleigh Street, Palmerston North acting on a complaint from a member of the public. The Inspectors found a male, brindled, crossbreed dog roaming free on the property.

The dog was underweight and had obvious tumours on two of his paws and his penis. There was discharge coming from his eyes and ears, and he was suffering from a large flea infestation.

The Inspectors seized the dog for veterinary assessment. The veterinarian stated that the dog was underweight with a Purina body condition score of 2.5 to 3 out of 9 (5 is ideal) and a weight of 21kg.

The veterinarian confirmed that the dog had several tumours, including a 7cm ulcerated mass on the third toe of the right foreleg, which was likely to be a bone tumour. The tumour at the base of the penis was oozing copious liquid. The veterinarian noted that all the tumours could have been present for months or even years.

Both of the dog’s eyes were clouded with discharge and the right eye also had conjunctivitis and showed the early stages of cataract formation. Both ears were severely infected and contained a large amount of smelly waxy discharge. The veterinarian noted that these problems might also have been present for months or even years.

The dog had a heavy flea infestation, suffered from dermatitis all over his body, and displayed sparse hair growth and skin thickening over large areas due to continuous scratching and chewing.

The dog has since been humanely euthanised due to chronic health issues.

“This is a case of shocking neglect that has resulted in months of unnecessary suffering for this dog and its eventual death,” says Ric Odom, CEO of the Royal New Zealand SPCA.

“There is no excuse for this. Anyone with an ounce of compassion could see the dog was suffering and needed urgent treatment. Just the flea infestation and resulting allergic skin reactions alone caused him constant distress and forced him to chew and scratch himself for hours on end. Add to that the tumours, infections, and dermatitis, and a brutal picture emerges.

“When you’re the person in charge of an animal, you’re responsible for that animal’s welfare. The animals in our homes are completely dependent on us to feed them, shelter them, and take them to the vet when they’re sick. If you fail to do any of these things, you are abusing the animal involved. And if we hear about it, we will prosecute you.

“Our thanks go to the member of the public who alerted us to the cruel abuse of this dog. If someone you know is neglecting or abusing an animal, please call us immediately. You can remain completely anonymous if you like – but your call could save a life.”


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