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Auckland woman prosecuted for severely neglecting her three dogs

21 July 2022

An Auckland woman who severely neglected three dogs, one of which died, has been prosecuted by SPCA.

Auckland woman prosecuted for severely neglecting her three dogs

The defendant was sentenced to 250 hours community work at Auckland District Court after pleading guilty to three charges under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. The offending relates to three dogs and includes two charges of failing to ensure that the physical, health and behavioural needs of an animal were met by failing to provide proper and sufficient food, and one charge of the ill-treatment of an animal causing it to suffer unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress.

SPCA was alerted to the offending in September 2020 after the defendant brought her mixed-breed dog, known as Abby, to an Auckland veterinary clinic. The dog was severely emaciated, with her bones clearly visible through her fur. The defendant told a nurse at the clinic that she used to own Abby, but had given her away to a friend and had unexpectedly found the dog on her property that morning. When vet staff examined the dog, they discovered she had recently died. When they told the defendant that Abby was dead, she became upset and left the clinic.

An autopsy of Abby’s body revealed she weighed just 6.9 kilograms and was suffering from severe emaciation. The pathologist concluded that Abby had been suffering from the effects of what was likely starvation for a period of weeks to months.

SPCA Chief Executive Andrea Midgen says it’s not only appalling that the dog was left to starve for such a significant period of time, but that no one intervened or reported Abby’s concerning condition until it was too late.

“It’s hard to imagine just how much this dog would have suffered in the final weeks of her life, while she was wasting away because her owner, or the person caring for her, had neglected her so severely,” says SPCA Chief Executive Andrea Midgen. “She was clearly not being provided with the care she needed, and what’s more shocking is that despite her obvious body condition, no one took her to see a vet until it was too late to save her.”

Less than a month after being alerted to Abby’s case, SPCA responded to complaints about underweight dogs being kept in dirty living conditions at the defendant’s Auckland address. Upon arrival, SPCA Inspectors located two dogs, including a male poodle-cross named Arthur, and a male husky named Amber. Both animals were removed from the property immediately, due to concerns about their underweight body condition and dirty environment.

The dogs were examined by a veterinarian who found both animals to be severely underweight, with their bones visible. Amber, the husky, also had overgrown nails, a matted undercoat and Fanconi Syndrome, which is a type of kidney disease that can be either congenital or induced by being fed poor quality jerky-type treats. The vet concluded that inadequate nutrition was a significant contributing factor to Amber’s poor body condition.

The defendant admitted to SPCA she owned all three dogs, and despite saying she gave Abby – the dog who died – to a friend, she was unable to provide details of who that was. The defendant said she was feeding the dogs raw meat and dog food, and although Arthur and Amber were showing clear signs of emaciation, she did not seek vet treatment.

“Feeding your pet a balanced and nutritional diet is one of the most basic responsibilities that come with being a pet owner, and it’s so disappointing to see their needs were so far from being met,” says Ms Midgen. “Not only was the defendant making her dogs sick by feeding them the wrong food, but she wasn’t feeding them enough to a point they were starving.”

The defendant was ordered to pay $1,000.00 reparations and disqualified from owning dogs for five years.
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