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SPCA v Joseph Rewha – Dog dragged behind car

SPCA v Joseph Rewha – Dog dragged behind car – Bay of Islands, 5/02/04.

Longest term of imprisonment ever handed down in animal welfare law in New Zealand.

An incident on 5th February 2004, where a dog was deliberately tied to the tow bar of a car and dragged along a country road at speeds of approximately 80 kph, had its sequel in the District Court at Kaikohe today.

Joseph Rewha, beneficiary, aged 52 years, or Rawhiti, Northland, had been charged with the Wilful Ill-Treatment of a dog and had previously entered a plea of guilty to the charge.

In sentencing Rewha to a term of 9 months imprisonment, Judge Russell Johnson said that animals were particularly vulnerable creatures. He said that the defendant’s actions showed that Rewha had clearly set out to torture the dog, which had done nothing more than obey its instincts to escape after it had been left tied up for several days while the defendant was on a drinking binge.

“Being a sad alcoholic, is no excuse”, said Judge Johnson.

Rewha was also disqualified from owning or exercising authority in respect of animals for a period of 7 years; and ordered to attend alcohol and drug abuse counselling.

SPCA prosecutor Jim Boyd, had earlier submitted that the act done by Rewha was not a case of a momentary act of anger or frustration, but a case of deliberate, sadistic and prolonged cruelty, calculated to cause the animal maximum terror and pain. Mr Boyd submitted that the sentence must be a denunciation of the defendant’s actions and that the denunciation must provide a clear and emphatic deterrent to others.

This sentence represents the longest term of imprisonment ever handed down for a case of animal cruelty, in New Zealand.

When spoken to after the sentencing, Mr Boyd said that it is hard to imagine a more deliberate act of torture toward an animal. He said he was pleased with the outcome and hoped the sentence would serve as a deterrent to others who would meter out cruelty to creatures that could not speak on their own behalf.


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