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SPCA prosecutes man for leaving cancer-ridden dog to suffer and die

05 March 2021
SPCA prosecutes man for leaving cancer-ridden dog to suffer and die

Failing to seek further veterinary treatment for his sick dog has seen a South Auckland man prosecuted by SPCA.

Daniel Woonton pleaded guilty to a charge of ill-treatment of an animal by omitting to provide sufficient treatment, causing the animal to suffer unnecessary or unreasonable pain and distress. He was sentenced in the North Shore District Court today to 80 hours’ community work, disqualified from owning dogs for one year and ordered to pay reparations of $805.83.

The defendant sought veterinary advice, concerned his dog Smokey wasn’t eating or drinking. The vet made a likely diagnosis of advanced stage lymphoma, noting that Smokey was emaciated. The vet told the defendant to make contact with the clinic the following day to do more tests or euthanise Smokey.

The defendant failed to make contact with the clinic, so SPCA Inspectors visited the defendant’s house to follow up. No one was home, but they found Smokey underneath a deck on a beanbag. His hips, ribcage, spine, and most of his bones were showing, and he was only able to bear weight for a few seconds before collapsing. Smokey was seized so that he could receive the necessary veterinary treatment.

SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen says at the absolute minimum, responsible animal ownership means seeking veterinary care if your animals need it.

“Letting an animal needlessly suffer when they are so unwell means you have completely failed as an owner,” she says.

The vet stated that Smokey’s level of emaciation would have been obvious to a layperson, and that he had been unwell for weeks, if not months. He also had an enlarged, irregular spleen and large lymph nodes. The vet concluded that Smokey would have been suffering unnecessary chronic pain and behavioural distress as a result of starvation, inability to walk, and the lymphoma.

Smokey was humanely euthanised to end his suffering, and necropsy results confirmed that he had lymphoma.

“It is hard to comprehend the suffering Smokey would have endured at the end of his life. The vet who treated Smokey said that without SPCA’s intervention, he would have continued to rapidly deteriorate until he died.

“We are pleased that his owner has been disqualified from owning dogs for a year,” Ms. Midgen says.

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