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SPCA Praises Speedy Resolution Of Cruelty Case


For release: 23rd June 2004


The Royal New Zealand SPCA has praised the speedy trial and sentencing of a Nelson man found guilty of beating his dog on the head with a hammer.

The Nelson District Court yesterday sentenced Adam John May (30) to 250 hours Community Service and banned him from owning animals for five years. May was also ordered to pay $428 to the SPCA's Nelson branch at the rate of $10 per week, to cover veterinary expenses.

The injured dog, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Chopper, has been forfeited to the SPCA .

"This was a cruel and vicious attack on poor Chopper, who suffered soft- tissue injuries to his skull, fractured teeth and jaw injuries. There can be no excuses for this kind of wanton cruelty," says the Royal New Zealand SPCA's Acting Chief Executive, Jenny Prattley.

Mrs Prattley notes that the sentence comes less than two weeks after the New Plymouth District Court sentenced a woman to 300 hours Community Service and ordered her to pay $4,000 in reparations to the SPCA after she was found guilty of failing to care adequately for 21 Persian cats.

"Taken together, these two cases suggest that our courts are starting to take a tougher line with people who are cruel or callous in their treatment of animals. It should be borne in mind that these are still far from draconian sentences when compared to those allowed for by the 1999 Animal Welfare Act. For example, in Chopper's case, his former owner could have faced a fine of $25,000 and/or six months in prison.

"What is particularly praiseworthy about the Nelson case is the speedy way in which justice was done, with the accused arrested, tried and sentenced within less than three weeks of committing the offence. We are very grateful to the Police for the determined way in which they brought this prosecution. Hopefully it will send a strong message to others who treat animals cruelly.

"The speed of the Nelson verdict contrasts favourably with the more than three years it took to resolve the New Plymouth cat case, as a result of the accused initially pleading not-guilty and opting for a jury trial. It cost the SPCA approximately $85,000 to bring this prosecution and to look after the cats for the duration of the trial. It would have cost more still had the Crown not taken over the case on our behalf," she says.

Meanwhile, the SPCA's Nelson branch reports that Chopper is in remarkably good spirits and has gained four kilos in weight since being fostered-out in early June. The branch hopes to make a decision about adopting Chopper out in a few weeks' time when his recovery is more advanced.

"He's a very cheerful, resilient little chap, so we do hope he will soon be in a fit state to go to a kind and caring new home," says General Manager, Phil Soper.


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