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SPCA prosecutes man for failing to provide vet care

A man has been prosecuted by SPCA for ill-treating his dog after he failed to provide veterinary treatment when it was suffering from cancerous oral, facial, and nasal lesions.

Michael Morehu, who entered a guilty plea at an earlier appearance was today sentenced in the Hutt Valley District Court to 170 hours community work, disqualified from owning animals for 5 years, and ordered to pay $527.80 reparations and $56.00 towards legal costs.

The case began in July 2018 when Zeus, a male husky crossbreed was found roaming and picked up by an Animal Control Officer, who alerted SPCA that Zeus had a significant facial disfigurement and was very thin. He was then taken into SPCA’s custody.

The SPCA Inspector took Zeus for an immediate veterinary examination. The veterinarian found a large mass measuring approximately 10cm located in the muzzle, which was affecting both the eye socket and the jawbone, and had caused a 3cm hold to open in the roof of his mouth. This hole would have allowed food to pass in to the nasal cavity every time he tried to eat which would have caused him distress.

This mass had also displaced Zeus’ left eye, minimising vision on that side, and his nose was severely ulcerated, with a large amount of pus coming his left nostril.

There was a second mass inside his mouth, which had degraded the bone to the left upper gum to the point that teeth located there were no longer rooted in the bone, and were instead ‘floating’ and held in only by the mass itself, which would have caused him pain when he attempted to eat.

Zeus was also in emaciated body condition, which was most likely the result of a combination of wastage due to chronic illness and undernutrition from the inability to eat caused by the masses, which were found to be cancerous.

These tumours had been allowed to progress unmanaged for an unreasonable amount of time, to the point where Zeus’ pain and distress could not be reasonably mitigated by any other method than euthanasia.

Zeus’ owner was identified by microchip registration. When interviewed by an SPCA Inspector, Zeus’ owner recalled his own vet had recommended euthanasia as far back as September 2016, but he declined because he couldn’t afford it and because of his attachment to Zeus. He admitted he knew that Zeus had been losing weight, had begun to smell bad, had difficulty eating, and said that he believed him to be in pain.

“Zeus suffered greatly as his cancer eventually overwhelmed him. It is unfathomable that his owner knew of his suffering and chose not to intervene,” says Andrea Midgen, SPCA CEO.

“It is never easy to make the decision to put a pet down due to old age or poor health. But in this case, it is hard to understand why Zeus’ owner allowed him to continue living in such an intolerably painful way for so long.”

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