SPCA New Zealand

Woman prosecuted for failing to provide care for unwell dog

02 July 2020
Woman prosecuted for failing to provide care for unwell dog

An Auckland woman has been prosecuted by SPCA after failing to seek veterinary care for her severely unwell dog.

The defendant was sentenced at the Auckland District Court yesterday to a charge of ill-treating an animal. She was sentenced to six months’ supervision, disqualified from owning dogs for five years, and ordered to pay $1,207.13 reparations to SPCA.

“This case highlights the failure of an owner to take care of their dog who was suffering for many months with complicated health issues,” says SPCA CEO, Andrea Midgen.

SPCA was notified in August last year about a female Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross named Bella reported to be in emaciated body condition.

SPCA directed a veterinarian to examine Bella. The vet found discharge coming from her nostrils due to an untreated respiratory infection, there were abnormal lung sounds and evidence that she a had coughed up blood. She was too weak to stand on her own, and was covered in fleas.

Bella underwent a second veterinary examination which confirmed she was emaciated. The vet added that Bella was moderately dehydrated, had tartar build up on her teeth, a grade 4 heart murmur, and excessively overgrown nails. Both vets agreed that Bella had been left untreated for a long time, causing her undue stress and suffering, and that it would have been obvious to any lay person.

Following the examination, Bella was humanely euthanized to prevent further suffering.

Bella’s necropsy revealed she had significant skeletal muscle wasting and had been suffering from Cushing’s disease, as well as congestive heart failure and pneumonia.

“This dog had complex medical needs and was never taken to a vet to alleviate her symptoms. As a result, Bella suffered for the last months of her life. It is the responsibility of all pet owners to seek veterinary care for their animals if they require it,” Ms Midgen said.

When interviewed, Bella’s owner said she had noticed her gradually losing weight about six months earlier and had given her more food and de-wormed her. She noticed Bella looked “a lot worse” over the previous two months, with weight loss that was more “dramatic”. She said she had not taken Bella to a vet even though she knew she should have, because she couldn’t afford it and had been saving for it. She surrendered ownership of Bella during the course of the investigation.
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