SPCA New Zealand

Owner claims spider bite responsible for “traumatic, catastrophic” injury of greyhound’s leg

24 March 2023

A dog owner told an RNZSPCA inspector a whitetail spider bite was the cause of the “ridged, shrunken and virtually useless leg” of his pet greyhound.

Owner claims spider bite responsible for “traumatic, catastrophic” injury of greyhound’s leg

The man appeared at the Palmerston North District Court on Thursday, and after entering a guilty plea, was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of $200, after a charge of failing to ensure an ill or injured animal received treatment alleviating any pain or distress.

Inspectorate Team Leader Ben Lakomy came across the dog on May 10, 2022, when the greyhound, Whippy, was being walked by the defendant along a main road with a number of other greyhound dogs.

Mr Lakomy noticed Whippy was holding her front right leg off the ground and stopped to check on the dog. When asked about the injury, the defendant claimed Whippy had been bitten by a whitetail spider three years earlier, and that he had not sought veterinary treatment.

When inspecting Whippy, Mr Lakomy noticed a large red, raw area of skin on the inside of the affected leg, and when he tried to examine her paw, she pulled away.

When interviewed, the defendant told the inspector he had found Whippy in her kennel one day in 2019 and was so convinced she was dead, he began to dig a hole to bury her in. On returning and realising she was partially awake; he noticed a mark on her leg which he believed to be a spider bite.

He went to the local veterinarian, explained what happened, and was advised to place an icepack on the affected area, which he did. He also gave her anti-inflammatories and cortisone cream for a couple of months. He also performed “physio” on her regularly, but admitted the joints in her leg “would not move.”

He told SPCA he did not take Whippy to the veterinarian, as he “didn’t really like vets” and his financial situation at the time “had not been good.”

Whippy was seized by SPCA and taken straight to a veterinarian where X-Rays revealed a long-term injury with some unknown, but likely “traumatic, catastrophic” event.

The cause of the injury was unknown, but the deep wounds and bone involvement indicated that veterinary treatment would have been required at the time and the severity of the injuries would have been obvious from the moment the injury occurred.

The leg had been without function for such a long time that the bone and soft tissue had become permanently altered.

The veterinarian concluded that the injury was so severe that the limb had permanently lost function and leg amputation was the only option to relieve Whippy of any further pain and distress.

Ownership of Whippy was surrendered in to the permanent care of SPCA and she has now found a new loving, caring home.

SPCA CEO Gabby Clezy said it was a stroke of luck that the inspector spotted Whippy when he did.

“If Whippy hadn’t been spotted, then her continuous pain and suffering would have been endless, it is horrific to imagine what this dog was going through,” Ms Clezy says.

“No animal should have to endure such unnecessary distress, regardless of the owner’s financial situation. An animal’s health and wellbeing should be absolutely paramount when it comes to injury or sickness and many veterinarians have payment systems to assist people who are struggling financially.”

“I am relieved that Whippy was taken into our care and she is now living a new life that she deserves.”

The defendant was also ordered to pay reparations to SPCA of $1,237.91.

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