SPCA New Zealand

SPCA prosecutes pair over starving chained dog

09 July 2024

Two Auckland dog owners have been disqualified from owning animals for five years after being prosecuted by SPCA for the neglect of a starving dog that was found chained in a backyard.

SPCA prosecutes pair over starving chained dog

The pair – a man and a woman – were sentenced at Auckland District Court after pleading guilty to a charge of failing to alleviate any unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress being suffered by the animal. They were respectively sentenced to periods of supervision and intensive supervision.

An SPCA Inspector responded to a call of concern about the dog, named Saint, at the woman’s Panmure address in July 2022. When they arrived at the property, they found Saint chained to a kennel in the backyard without access to water. He was severely emaciated, with his skull, spine, hip and rib bones all prominent. He had pressure wounds across his body, including one on his right hip that was open and raw.

Saint was immediately taken into possession by the Inspector and treated by two veterinarians. Both determined that Saint was showing severe signs of fear, anxiety and stress with growling, bared teeth, and a tucked tail. He was significantly underweight with clear signs of muscle loss. The vets agreed his open wound and pressure sores, combined with his poor body condition, meant he would have been suffering distress and discomfort for months.

Blood tests also revealed Saint had a very high amount of strongyle eggs, and he was suffering from potentially life-threatening anaemia due to the intestinal parasites, infection, and dietary deficiency.

Speaking to SPCA’s Inspectors, the female defendant said she thought Saint was skinny but “didn’t think anything was wrong with him”. She noted he had stopped eating the biscuits she had always fed him. The other defendant – who was Saint’s owner – admitted the dog’s condition was “pretty shocking” but did nothing about it.

The pair voluntarily surrendered Saint and another dog they owned to SPCA.

SPCA Chief Executive Todd Westwood says it’s appalling the owners knew Saint was suffering but took no action to help him.

“The level of neglect that Saint experienced at the hands of his carers is absolutely shocking, and he simply deserved better,” says Mr Westwood. “I struggle to imagine the pain and hopelessness this innocent animal felt as he suffered for months.”

SPCA advocates for a change in legislation that would strengthen its powers when dealing with dogs that are life-chained, which has both physical and mental impacts on these helpless animals.

“We really hope to see some progress from the Government soon, so we can step in to help other chained dogs before they reach this state of neglect,” says Mr Westwood.
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