SPCA New Zealand

Auckland man sentenced for starving rabbits and guinea pigs to death

04 December 2016
Auckland man sentenced for starving rabbits and guinea pigs to death

Whenuapai resident, Paul Paterson, has this week been banned from owning animals for 20 years by the Waitakere District Court for starving two rabbits and two Guinea pigs to death, and leaving floor to ceiling cages of small animals close to death.

This is the second time Mr Paterson has been prosecuted by the SPCA. Mr Paterson was convicted of ill-treatment in 2013 after his Shetland pony was found suffering a number of health problems. He was disqualified from owning equine animals for four years.

In March 2015, an SPCA Auckland Inspector responded to a call out about rustling noises, flies and strong odours coming from a garage. Inside the garage the inspector found floor to ceiling small animal cages in darkness, containing seven rabbits and five rats living in their own waste without food or water. Two emaciated dead rabbits and two emaciated dead guinea pigs were also found on a compost bin on the property.

The inspector removed all animals immediately, including the deceased. One emaciated rabbit was so sick it needed to be euthanised on the property on humane grounds. A further two rabbits were euthanised at SPCA Auckland due to severe health problems. A vet examination of the rescued and deceased animals showed they were severely malnourished, had significant flea and mite infestations and would have experienced pain and suffering after being neglected over a long period of time.

SPCA Auckland Chief Executive Andrea Midgen says Mr Paterson showed blatant disregard for animal welfare, leading to the painful and completely unnecessary death of animals who relied on him for the most basic of life’s necessities.

“These animals died completely unnecessarily after living a life of pain, suffering and neglect. Mr Paterson has previously been prosecuted by the SPCA and he knows his responsibilities as a pet owner. It is completely unacceptable to continue to treat animals this way,” Ms Midgen says.

“We’re grateful to the member of the public who brought the case to our attention, and for the work of the SPCA Inspectorate who worked tirelessly to secure another prosecution against the owner. Our team fought for a disqualification of owning animals of all species to be handed down, potentially saving future animals from a cruel fate.”

In addition to the 20-year ban on owning animals, Mr Paterson was sentenced to 250 hours of community work, $440 of reparation and ordered to forfeit all animals in his care.

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