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Dog Neglect Sentence A Clear Warning To Owners

2 August 2005

SPCA Says Crippled Dog Neglect Sentence A Clear Warning To Owners

The Royal New Zealand SPCA is encouraged by the prison sentence imposed on a Northland man who left his crippled dog in extreme suffering for eight weeks.

The Kaitaia District Court last week sentenced David John Simpkin to four months imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to a charge of wilfully mistreating his bulldog, known as Mack.

Mack was discovered near death when an SPCA inspector visited the property. The dog's back was broken and the rear part of his body wasted by emaciation. He needed to be humanely euthanased to prevent further suffering.

"The court's decision is a clear warning to owners of dogs and other animals that they can end up in prison if they severely neglect the creatures in their care," says the Royal New Zealand SPCA's National Chief Executive, Robyn McDonald.

"This is the first time since the passing of the 1999 Animal Welfare Act that a court has imposed a custodial sentence for an omission rather than an act on the part of the accused. We welcome the sentence, which reflects the great and needless suffering imposed on the dog.

"The sentence is wholly in keeping with the Animal Welfare Act, which makes no distinction between acts or omissions as opposed to whether or not mistreatment was wilful. The Act also imposes a clear duty of care by owners towards their animals. This sentence is an excellent example of how the Act's principles are being integrated into the practice of our courts, "she says.

Robyn McDonald adds that wilful mistreatment was undeniably present in the case, given the dog's condition and the fact that he was left suffering for eight weeks within eyesight of his owner's home.

"Our inspector was able to photograph Mack before he was euthanased. The pictures are quite shocking. No animal should be forced to suffer such neglect," says Robyn McDonald.


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