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Justice catches up with people who neglect their dogs

Justice catches up with people who neglect their dogs


Two men were handed stiff penalties for neglecting dogs in their care this week in two different Auckland courts but the message was the same: if you fail to look after your pets SPCA Auckland will prosecute you – and win.

In the Waitakere District Court on 8 March 2012 Harley Love, 21, Glen Eden, entered a plea of guilty to a charge of keeping an “animal alive when it is in such a condition that it is suffering unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress”.

Love’s court appearance resulted from events in January 2011. At that time an SPCA Auckland Inspector, acting on a tip-off, visited a Glen Eden property and discovered a 17-year-old German Shepherd type dog collapsed on the back deck. The dog, named “Troy”, was in very thin body condition and covered in patches of live fleas and maggots. Troy was extremely lethargic and was lying in his own excrement.

“The owner told the Inspector that Troy hadn’t walked for a week or eaten for three days,” says SPCA CEO Christine Kalin. “Unsurprisingly, the Inspector expressed his disgust that the dog had been left in this condition.”

The Inspector loaded the dog into his vehicle while the owner signed a surrender form giving ownership of the dog to the Auckland SPCA. When the Inspector returned to the vehicle he checked on the dog to find that he had died.

A veterinary pathologist found that the dog was also suffering from chronic heart disease, arthritis, dehydration, lung and liver congestion, and pressure sores. The pathologist commented that the dog would have been in pain from the above conditions.

In court Judge Sinclair sentenced Love to 150 hours community work, disqualified him from owning an animal for a period of ten years, and ordered him to pay reparations of $822.48.

“The period of disqualification the judge ordered in this case is a pleasing result that sends a clear message to people who fail to care for their dogs,” says Kalin. “No animal deserves to suffer like Troy did. We feel justice has been served in this case.”

Meanwhile, more than four years after neglecting two dogs in his care, Mangere man Marely Tosala, 24, has finally been brought to justice.

He entered a plea of guilty on 7 March 2012 in the Manukau District Court to a charge of failing to provide two dogs “with proper and sufficient food and water” and “failing to ensure the animals received treatment that alleviated any unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress”.

But the story began in August 2007 when an SPCA Auckland Inspector visited a property in Vickers Crescent, Mangere and found a female, pit bull type dog chained to a kennel.

The dog was very thin with ribs, spine, and hip bones clearly visible, and had patches of hair loss and scabs over most of her body. Her nails were long and there was discharge around both of her eyes. The owner was not home. The dog was removed and taken for veterinary attention.

On a follow-up visit a few days later, another dog was discovered – a male pit bull type dog this time and in much the same condition as the female. Again, the owner was not home and the male dog was removed and taken for veterinary attention.

The veterinarian found both dogs weighed only 18.5kg when removed and had severe skin infections. The veterinarian concluded that any lay person would have realised both dogs were underweight and had a severe skin problem that needed veterinary attention.

In court Judge Moses sentenced Tosala to 100 hours community work, reparations of $3500 (payable at $20 per week), and disqualified him from owning dogs for a period of three years.

Judge Moses said in his closing that “it was clear to me that these dogs were in very poor condition and you failed to give them adequate care and attention. The law takes these matters very seriously.”

In both these cases, the level of neglect shows a callous disregard for the suffering of the animals involved, says Kalin.

“We want people out there with dogs and other animals in their care to think very hard about their responsibilities,” she says.

“The bottom line is: we are watching. If you fail to provide your animals with basic care like food, water, shelter, and adequate vet care, we will prosecute you. And we will win.”

ENDS


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