Auckland woman sentenced for starving four pets
An Auckland woman has been sentenced by North Shore District Court for starving her two pet dogs and leaving them living in their own waste.
The two dogs, a Samoyed and a Siberian husky, were found by an SPCA Auckland Inspector in September 2015 in defendant Ms. Pamela De Vere’s garage without food or water. The dogs had no outside access and as a result had been forced to live amongst their own waste. The dog’s coats were unkempt and smelled strongly of urine. The pair were also malnourished and dehydrated, their long fur hiding prominent back, rib and hip bones.
Two cats, (now named Henry and Pebbles), were also discovered at the property in a cage with no food or water. Their bedding was piles of layered newspaper that was never cleaned out or replaced. The stench from urine and excrement was overwhelming. It is believed that the cats rarely, if ever, spent time out of the cage.
The dogs and cats were seized by an SPCA inspector and assessed by a vet. The dogs weighed around eight kilograms when seized by the SPCA, and for dogs of their size should have weighed between 16-23 kilograms. The Sibererian husky (now called Blu Eyes) and the Samoyed (now named Selena) were brought back to full health by SPCA Auckland and rehomed.
This is the second time Ms. De Vere has been discovered ill-treating animals. A search warrant was carried out by an SPCA Auckland Inspector in 2012, who found two dogs in a malnourished condition. The dogs were temporarily seized and brought back to full health by the SPCA. Ms. De Vere was educated on proper animal care and the dogs were returned, conditional on regular weight checks at her local vet.
Shortly after the return of the dogs Ms. De Vere informed the SPCA that one of the dogs had been rehomed and the other had passed away and she no longer owned any animals. This proved to be untrue after the SPCA discovered one of the original dogs, as well as a new dog, in her care when carrying out a routine follow up visit to determine whether Ms. De Vere was properly caring for the animals. The SPCA proactively checks in with all animal owners who have been re-educated on the proper care of animals.
Ms. De Vere was sentenced to a five-year disqualification from owning animals. The judge took into account the fact that Ms. De Vere has already been without any animals for two years since the offending, meaning she has been disqualified for three years. The SPCA sought an eight-year disqualification.
SPCA Auckland CEO Andrea Midgen would have liked to see a longer disqualification period handed down.
Ms. Midgen says the organisation will try to educate animal owners in the first instance, as it’s one of the most effective ways of ensuring animals are well cared for long-term.
“Taking animals off owners is sometimes necessary to remove an animal from immediate harm, but it doesn’t necessarily teach the owner how to better care for animals in future, and therefore doesn’t stop the cycle of neglect,” says Ms Midgen.
“When education fails and animal owners continue to offend, the SPCA will seek criminal charges. Ignorance is one thing, blatant disregard for a living creature’s health and wellbeing is another, and one that demands legal consequences.
“Ultimately this case has a really great outcome in that all four animals are happy, healthy and have wonderful forever homes.
“However, in a case like this with such serious long-term neglect, we would have liked to see a longer disqualification period handed down by the courts. We believe that taking action through the court is essential to ensuring animal offenders can’t hurt animals again – and being disqualified from owning animals is key in this.”