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Man sentenced for taping dog’s mouth shut

Media Release

December 18, 2009

Man sentenced for taping dog’s mouth shut

Waitakere City Council says the sentence handed out to a man who bound a dog’s mouth with electrical tape will send a message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated in any way.

Fukahetau Togafana plead guilty and appeared in the Waitakere District Court this week where he was sentenced to 250 hours community service, ordered to pay $603.75 in costs and disqualified from owning a dog for five years.

The charges related to an incident in December last year when staff from the council’s Waitakere Animal Welfare unit were called to a Massey property where they found Bobby, a dog with its mouth bound by electrical tape and its legs tied with rope.

The tape was so tight it had cut in to the animal’s flesh. It also appeared it wasn’t the first time this had happened as its face was had swollen scars and dead tissue. There were also lesions on his legs.

It’s believed the dog’s mouth had been taped to stop it ripping in to rubbish bags.

“This is a pretty rare case for us but as you can imagine it was extremely traumatic for all our staff,” says Animal Welfare Waitakere manager Neil Wells.

“We appreciate that the judge has recognised the severity of the case and imposed the sentence of 250 hours community services – which is pretty high.

“We hope it will make people realise that this is not acceptable behaviour.”

The story of Bobby’s plight touched the nation but sadly there was no happy ending the traumatised canine.

“Unfortunately, despite efforts from our staff and a foster family to try to rehabilitate Bobby to a point where he could be re-homed, his psychological problems, which were fuelled by the abuse, could not be resolved and he had to euthanized,” says Mr Wells.

While traumatic for staff Mr Wells says it was good to be able to see the case through to fruition.

Waitakere Animal Welfare is the only local authority animal welfare unit in Auckland to have special delegated authority to investigate and prosecute animal welfare cases.

“It means less double handling and I think a more efficient process.

”And in this case it meant there was some justice – for Bobby.”

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