A 56-year-old Illawong man was convicted and sentenced at Sutherland LocalCourt on Thursday 5 March 2020, following pleas of guilty to five counts offailing to provide veterinary treatment to his two dogs, ‘Buddy’ and ‘Rusty’,as well as one offence of committing an act of aggravated cruelty to Buddy theOld English Sheepdog.
He was sentenced to a 2-year Conditional Release Order, subject to conditionsthat he is of good behaviour and appears before the Court if called upon to doso. The Court further ordered the man to report to Sutherland Police Stationwithin 24 hours for the purposes of fingerprinting.
The man was fined $5,250.00 with moiety awarded to RSPCA NSW and ordered topay RSPCA NSW an additional $1,590.71 in veterinary and shelter costs.
He also received a prohibition order banning him from purchasing, acquiring,or taking possession or custody of any animal for ten years, with noexceptions, confirming that a third dog which remained in his care, a Labradorpuppy, will need to be surrendered or otherwise rehomed within 28 days.
In an agreed fact document tendered on sentence, the Court heard that onWednesday 13 November 2019, a RSPCA NSW Inspector attended the Illawongproperty in response to a cruelty complaint. Three dogs were observed on theproperty: an Old English Sheepdog (Buddy) and a Poodle cross Cocker Spaniel(Rusty) were in a side yard next to the house, while the third was a chocolateLabrador seen through a sliding door inside the house.
The Inspector had immediate concerns for the Old English Sheepdog as itappeared to be in very poor body condition and was unreactive to anythingaround it, including the large number of flies landing on the dog. There was astrong stench of urine and faeces coming from the dog and it had large clumpsof matted fur all over its body.
The Poodle cross Cocker Spaniel was observed in a light body condition and hada matted coat that appeared dirty and red. Both dogs had fur that had grownover their eyes and needed to be parted by hand for the Inspector to see them.
Both dogs were seized from the side yard, which was mostly dirt and had abuild-up of faeces, as they needed urgent veterinary treatment. The Inspectorran a hand over the Old English Sheepdog’s body and felt the grooves of thespine bone as well as protruding rib bones, indicating the extreme emaciationof Buddy.
Buddy could not stand up unassisted and had to be carried into the RSPCAvehicle. Both dogs were transported to the RSPCA Sydney shelter in Yagoona.
The examining veterinarian determined Buddy was severely obtunded (only eyesresponsive) and very unweight with a body score of 5, where 5 is emaciated and1 is ideal. He weighed 21.5 kg with the matted fur and 18.5 kg after the 3 kgof matted fur was clipped off (14% of intake body weight).
The urine-soaked fur was causing dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) and thefaecal soiling was conducive to the parasitic infestation observed. Buddy wassuffering myiasis, a live infestation of fly larvae. Varying sizes of livemaggots were eating his flesh causing severe pain and discomfort.
Buddy also had a heavy flea burden with flea nests throughout his coat,bilateral entropion (rolling in of lower eyelids) with suspected secondaryinfection, and advanced dental disease. Following the examination, the OldEnglish Sheepdog was determined by the veterinarian to be in such a physicalcondition that it was cruel to keep alive and was humanely euthanised.
Rusty was given a body score of 4, where 5 is emaciated and 1 is ideal, andweighed 8.2 kg before having his matted coat clipped and 7.9 kg after the furwas clipped off. His left eye had excessive watering, mucopurulent discharge(fluid containing mucus and pus), and conjunctivitis.
His skin was red and inflamed at the hind limbs and base of his tail, wheremost of a live flea infestation was concentrated, and he also had dentaldisease and a ravenous appetite.
On Thursday 21 November 2019, the accused attended the RSPCA shelter inYagoona to participate in an interview where he stated that he and his wifeboth owned the seized dogs, but he was the person in charge of fulfilling oftheir day-to-day needs.
The 56-year-old stated that Buddy was last taken to the vet about three yearsago and Rusty was last taken to the vet a little bit over three years ago. Hecontinued to say that both dogs are regularly fed dog biscuits, and that hehad not noticed any problems with their eating habits, however they were bothnot fed on the morning of 13 November 2019.
In reference to Buddy’s matted fur, the man claimed the last time the dog wasprofessionally groomed was approximately at the time of Christmas 2018, he didnot want to shave the dog right down because of the cold weather.
He said that he had not noticed the dog’s emaciation because of the layers ofmatted fur that covered the body, however he claimed that he was aware thatBuddy was thinner than usual but put it down to the dog’s age. At no stage didthe man think that Buddy needed to see a vet.
The man was also oblivious to Buddy’s maggot infestation, eye infection,overgrown nails, and dental disease. He was aware that both Buddy and Rustyhad fleas and claimed he was giving them flea treatment, but it was hard tokeep them down.
“As a pet owner, you are responsible for the welfare of your animals for theentirety of the time they are in your care,” said RSPCA NSW Chief InspectorScott Meyers.
“Responsible pet ownership involves ensuring your pet does not needlesslysuffer, there is no excuse.”
Rusty was made available for adoption and has since found his forever home.
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