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Neglected dog chews off its own foot

Neglected dog chews off its own foot

South Auckland farmer Allan Smurthwaite, 66, locked his dogs in filthy kennels for so long that one of them chewed off its own injured foot.

He was convicted today in the Pukekohe District Court of ill-treating an animal resulting in permanent disability, ill-treating an animal by causing it to suffer unnecessary pain, failing to protect animals from significant injury or disease, and failing to provide an animal with proper and sufficient food.

He was sentenced to 150 hours community service, disqualified from owning animals for 10 years, and ordered to pay reparations of $7202.81.

“This is not the first time Mr Smurthwaite has ended up in court for abusing animals in his care – SPCA Auckland also prosecuted him in 2007 for keeping dogs in hazardously unhygienic kennels,” says Bob Kerridge, SPCA Auckland Executive Director.

“At that time he was convicted on five charges of ill-treating animals. He was sentenced to community service and had to pay court fees of $1200 plus reparation costs to SPCA Auckland – and yet here he is in court again for the same sort of offending.

“There are provisions in the Animal Welfare Act for tougher sentences to be imposed as a deterrent to repeat offending and this an obvious case where those provisions have not been employed. Although a disqualification of 10 years is a step in the right direction, we believe the judge should have gone further and imposed a stiffer sentence.”

Acting on a complaint, SPCA Inspectors attended the Defendant’s property at Waiau Pa, west of Drury, on 19 December 2012 and discovered seven Australian cattle dogs and two border collie type dogs, all confined in kennels littered with a massive build-up of faeces.

Food bowls were infested with flies and drinking water was green with algae. A strong stench of ammonia enveloped the kennels due to the faeces build-up and lack of ventilation.

A female cattle dog named ‘Putt Putt’ had one left hind foot completely missing, with raw flesh and bone protruding from the stump.

Five of the dogs – named ‘Spider’, ‘Flip’, ‘Flop’, ‘Zeus’ and ‘Putt Putt’ – were seized by the SPCA Inspector and transported to SPCA Auckland for immediate veterinary treatment.

The Veterinarian found that several centimetres of ‘Putt Putt’s left hind foot were missing below the hock, exposing the remains of the long bones of the foot. The dog was experiencing significant pain and suffering and the Veterinarian recommended amputation, which was carried out.

According to a Veterinary Pathologist who examined the amputated limb, the foot had been missing for several days. In the SPCA Veterinarian’s opinion ‘Putt Putt’ had most likely suffered a traumatic lower limb injury and then chewed off her own foot.

“The dog ‘Putt Putt’ would have experienced severe pain, suffering, and distress and any layperson would have known that she was in need of urgent veterinary treatment,” says Mr Kerridge.

“The kennels clearly fell well below the minimum standards set out in the Animal Welfare Code of Welfare for dogs. All the dogs were put at risk of damage to their respiration and gastrointestinal systems due to the faecal, algal, and bacterial hazards in the kennels where they were confined for long periods of time.

“This is a case of neglect, pure and simple. As a result ‘Putt Putt’ has now lost one of her hind legs, which permanently limits her mobility. The original injury should have treated immediately but there is a wider pattern of neglect here. It is obviously completely wrong to confine dogs in such appalling conditions and ignore their obvious distress, let alone dogs with serious injuries.”


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