SPCA New Zealand

Woman charged after ignoring dog’s maggot infested wounds

14 December 2023

A woman who left her dog to die in a shed after he suffered serious wounds following a suspected dog attack, has been prosecuted for her neglect by SPCA.

Woman charged after ignoring dog’s maggot infested wounds

The woman pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure her animal received treatment to alleviate any pain or distress and was today sentenced to 150 hours community work and disqualified from owning dogs for a period of three-and-a-half years, at Wairoa District Court.

SPCA was called to an address in Hastings in January 2022 after receiving a call of concern about an injured dog. On arrival, they were met by the defendant and discovered her American Bulldog cross, Tahi, lying in a shed at the back of the property. His left hind-leg was swollen from the foot up to the thigh. The skin around the leg area extending towards his foot was severely damaged with exposed flesh and pus discharge.

There was a damp patch on the wooden floor under the area of damaged skin, which appeared to be pus discharge. There was a strong, unpleasant smell coming from the dog, which the Inspector believed was typical of infected putrid flesh.

The Inspector told the defendant that Tahi required urgent veterinary attention, and she agreed to surrender him to SPCA. He was immediately removed from the address and taken for veterinary examination.

The vet found Tahi was depressed, barely responsive and severely emaciated. Both eyes were sunken which indicated serious dehydration. He had a skin infection in his lips, with one of his lip folds infested with maggots. He had thickened skin across his abdomen and maggots in his groin and scrotum area. He could only stand for short periods of time before collapsing on his side and he refused to walk at all.

The vet concluded that that he had suffered numerous wounds, likely from a dog attack and these had become infected. The lack of treatment of the infected wounds very likely caused a number of inflammatory conditions. Sadly, due to the extreme pain Tahi was in and the extent of his infections, the decision was made to euthanise him immediately to end his suffering.

When interviewed by SPCA, the defendant said Tahi was always roaming and getting in fights with other dogs, but his wounds usually healed. However, in late December he had arrived home with a large cut across his left hind leg, as if it had been sliced open. She told Inspectors she’d tried to treat the wound by washing it and putting a bandage on it. But Tahi’s condition continued to deteriorate and he stopped eating, drinking and sleeping.

She said once the wound became infected, Tahi had started living in the shed. She didn’t think he was going to make it and the best thing would be to have him put down. She told SPCA she didn’t seek veterinary treatment as she thought she could treat the wound herself by washing it. She said when she saw maggots in the wound, she didn’t contact a veterinarian as she didn’t know if they’d be open on a weekend.

SPCA Chief Executive Todd Westwood says there was absolutely no excuse to let Tahi’s condition deteriorate in such a brutal and uncaring way.

“Tahi was seriously injured and instead of getting it seen to, he was left in a shed where he lay suffering until someone notified our team. In this time his wounds became horribly infected, he was starving and dehydrated,” says Mr Westwood. “The owner knew this, yet still didn’t seek vet treatment of any kind. This is unacceptable, cruel and neglectful. I am certain that Tahi’s wounds could have been easily treated in the initial stages and his life could have been saved.”

The defendant was also ordered to pay reparations to SPCA of $2,575.90 and $400 towards legal costs.
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