Negligent animal owners will be brought to justice

Press Release – SPCA

Not taking action to save an animal from obvious pain can land you in court facing serious charges and liable for reparations.

Negligent animal owners will be brought to justice

Not taking action to save an animal from obvious pain can land you in court facing serious charges and liable for reparations.

SPCA Auckland won a case on Tuesday 13 December 2011 in which the defendant, Joshua Skinner, was found guilty of “failing to ensure that [an] animal received treatment to alleviate any unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress being suffered by the animal” under Section 11 of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

Behind the legal jargon lies an appalling case of neglect that should serve as a warning to negligent animal owners everywhere: SPCA Auckland can and will prosecute you if you fail to provide necessary veterinary care for your animals.

It started on 8 October 2008 when an SPCA Inspector, acting on a tip-off, attended a property in Mangatangi and found an emaciated dog lying in the garden.

“The dog was very lethargic and unable to hold his head up for more than a few seconds,” says SPCA Auckland Chief Inspector Vicki Border. “The inspector had to carry him to her vehicle.”

The inspector took the dog to SPCA Auckland where he was examined by a veterinarian. The dog initially weighed only 14 kilograms but soon vomited up several large pieces of meat and his weight dropped to just 13.4 kilograms. He was placed on a drip and x-rays were taken to check for any internal obstruction.

The dog died overnight and was sent to Gribbles Laboratory for a necropsy. Results of the necropsy found that at least one week prior the dog had swallowed a bamboo skewer which had broken into three pieces. The pieces of skewer had pierced through the stomach and intestines, causing chronic vomiting, peritonitis and twisting of the stomach which was the ultimate cause of death.

“The veterinarian concluded that the dog would have endured significant pain and suffering over an extended period of time and that any lay person would have realised that the dog was in need of veterinary treatment,” says Border.

The defendant, Joshua Skinner, failed to show up at Court a number of times but was finally located in Te Awamutu.

At the Te Awamutu District Court on Tuesday, Judge Ruth condemned the inaction of the defendant to obtain veterinary treatment for an animal that had obviously suffered great pain over a prolonged period of time.

Judge Ruth sentenced the defendant to 300 hours community work, reparations of $951.30 payable to the Auckland SPCA at a rate of $50 per week.

“While it’s good that we have obtained a conviction, nothing can make up for the unnecessary suffering the dog endured,” says Border. “We can’t be everywhere at once – we need members of the public to keep their eyes and ears open and call us if they see or hear an animal in distress, particularly over the holiday period when many animals are simply abandoned.”

SPCA Auckland is empowered under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 to protect all animals from abuse, neglect, and abandonment, and to prosecute people who break this law. To report such cases, please phone 09 256 7300.


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