SPCA New Zealand

Woman pleads guilty to keeping dog chained without water and shelter

01 March 2024

An Auckland woman who kept her dog on a tangled chain without water and shelter pleaded guilty to two charges in the Manukau District Court today.

Woman pleads guilty to keeping dog chained without water and shelter

The prosecution comes after SPCA Inspectors visited an address in Māngere East in June 2023.

Despite calls of concern from a member of the public, SPCA Inspectors were unable to locate the dog at that time. On a second visit they located a female American Pitbull Terrier cross named Ferguson who was chained to a tree in the front yard.

The chain was wrapped around the tree and around the dog’s neck, without a collar. The chain had become so tangled that despite there being a kennel provided, Ferguson could not access it and her movement was restricted to a metre from the tree. There were multiple bowls in the vicinity, but all were empty, and Ferguson had no access to water whatsoever.  Nobody was home at the address.

On a return visit shortly after, Inspectors found Ferguson’s situation unchanged, so they removed her from the property.

Veterinary assessment confirmed Ferguson was suffering from fear, anxiety and stress resulting in part from poor socialisation. She had fly-bitten ears, poor body condition, and it would have been obvious to a lay person that she needed veterinary treatment.

SPCA Chief Executive Todd Westwood says this case serves as a reminder that failure to provide the very basics including water and shelter is akin to holding an animal hostage.

“How can an animal enjoy life when it is struggling just to survive? It’s heartbreaking to see a dog spending its every moment on a chain, restricted to a tiny space with nothing to drink.”

The defendant explained that due to the lack of fencing on the property, the dog had to be tethered. She said she didn’t have the money to purchase the supplies required to comply with regulations.

The defendant surrendered Ferguson to SPCA, though after several weeks in the care of SPCA, due to ongoing behavioural challenges and stress endured by Ferguson, the decision was made to humanely euthanise her to end her suffering.

“Life-chained dogs like poor Ferguson suffer more than physical wounds – it's the mental trauma which is harder to heal,” Mr Westwood says. “This is why SPCA is pressing for regulations to be introduced that will allow us to help more dogs living on chains before it is too late for them. In Ferguson’s case, I am just pleased we were able to put an end to her suffering.”

In sentencing the defendant was ordered to pay a $400 fine and $130 court costs.

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