Woman sentenced for leaving dog lying in its own excrement
An Auckland woman who left her German Shepherd suffering in pain and unable to move for so long that she had to be euthanised, has been prosecuted by SPCA.
The defendant was charged with the ill-treatment of an animal causing it to suffer unreasonable pain and distress, and was sentenced to 150 hours community work and disqualified from owning dogs for a period of five years, at North Shore District Court.
SPCA Inspectors were first called to a property in October 2020, where they found the female German Shepherd lying on two pieces of carpet on a concrete floor, unable to stand and covered in her own urine and fecal matter.
The dog’s ears were also wet and when the Inspector tried to touch her ears she yelped. She was immediately taken into SPCA’s possession for urgent veterinary treatment.
The vet established the dog was unable to use her hind legs, she had lost control of her bowel movements and had blood-stained urine. Both ear canals were seriously inflamed, indicating a longer-term disease. Sadly, the dog was in so much pain, euthanasia was the only solution to end her suffering.
When questioned, the owner said the dog had become “unstable” near the end of 2018, and had been unable to walk since the beginning of 2019, and just spent time “lying there” in the corner of the office.
She said that they had taken the dog to a vet around two years earlier for ear issues and that surgery had been performed, but ongoing problems continued to occur. The vet had then quoted over $3,000 for treatment and the defendant didn't undertake the required surgery.
A necropsy, which was carried out by a Veterinary Pathologist, suggested that the loss of hind quarter mobility, anal and bladder tone were probably due to a degenerative chronic condition which has a very slow onset over a period of months to years. The pathologist also commented that the ear disease would have caused marked pain and suffering over a period of weeks to months and would have been obvious to anyone.
SPCA Chief Executive Todd Westwood says there is no excuse for failing to seek treatment for a sick animal.
“Pets are like family to most New Zealanders and it’s unthinkable that someone would leave their dog in such a poor state for such a long period of time, when they were clearly in considerable pain,” says Mr Westwood. “It’s heartbreaking to think of what this animal suffered for months on end – even years – while her owner failed her. It’s also incredibly distressing for our Inspectors and vet staff who discover shocking situations like this.
“What this case shows is that not everyone can be a responsible pet owner. Animals should be companions only when a person has the knowledge, ability, and means to provide them with a good life – where they experience positive welfare and their physical, health and behavioural needs are met.”
The defendant was also ordered to pay to SPCA reparations of $1,500.00 and $500.00 towards legal costs.