SPCA New Zealand

Auckland woman sentenced after starving dog

12 May 2016
Auckland woman sentenced after starving dog

A Mangere woman has been sentenced to community service and disqualified from owning a dog for 10 years by the Manukau District Court after her dog was found starving, unable to walk and suffering from a severely painful skin infection.

Debbie Petch was found guilty of ill-treatment of an animal after her white, boxer cross Skyline was discovered huddled in his kennel on the brink of death at a Mangere property in September 2014. Ms Petch was sentenced to 40 hours community work, reparation of $1112.56 and has been disqualified from owning a dog for 10 years.

The case began when an SPCA Auckland Inspector entered the Mangere property in 2014 and found Skyline weak, unresponsive and struggling to stand up. Skyline was suffering from severe starvation and his backbone, rib-cage and pelvic bones were all clearly visible. His skull bones were prominent, his claws were overgrown and his eyes were sunken from dehydration. He also suffered from mites, as well as yeast and bacterial infections in his ears.

An untreated skin infection had also led to the loss of half of Skyline’s fur. The exposed skin was pink, raw and inflamed. His wounds were bleeding and infected.

When Skyline arrived at SPCA Auckland he weighed just 18.5kg. An average adult dog of his size and breed should weigh around 30kg. The SPCA vet who inspected him said there was no doubt that the dog’s condition was preventable and entirely treatable. It was clear Skyline would have been in severe pain for months.

Ms Petch confirmed she was the dog’s owner and admitted to seeking vet treatment for Skyline’s skin problems in 2012, but failed to seek further treatment when the condition returned and it was left to worsen. Ms Petch signed ownership of Skyline over to SPCA Auckland who treated him and found him a new, loving home. Today Skyline, renamed Sky, spends his days playing at the beach and enjoys unconditional love from his family on the North Shore.

SPCA Auckland CEO Andrea Midgen says it’s hugely rewarding to see an animal thrive after enduring such hardship, however the SPCA would like to see offenders like Ms Petch handed stronger sentences to prevent further cruelty.

“No animal should have to suffer as Sky did. He required significant care and treatment from SPCA vets before he was ready to be re-homed, but thankfully he now has a truly wonderful life with his forever family. Few animals who endure this level of neglect can recover physically and psychologically to be rehomed.

“Ultimately this is a great outcome for Sky, however, in cases like this with such significant long-term neglect, we would like to see more community service reparations handed down in court. And while we were pleased to see a disqualification from owning dogs for 10 years, we believe the ill-treatment of Sky warrants a disqualification from owning all animals, not just dogs,” she says.

Sky in her new forever home.
Sky in her new forever home.
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