7 July 2023

A 43-year-old woman who let her dog suffer with painful and severe matting for at least six months has been found guilty of animal cruelty.

In Joondalup Magistrates Court today, the offender was fined $3500 and banned from owning pets for five years. She was also ordered to pay $720.80 in court and care costs to RSPCA WA.

In sentencing, Magistrate De Maio said the dog–an 11-year-old Maltese shih-tzu named Emma–had been ‘neglected in the most cruel way’.

An RSPCA WA inspector attended the offender’s home in Butler on 25 January to investigate a cruelty report. She found Emma in poor condition, with long dreadlocks and prickles throughout her coat.

Despite being told the matting would have been causing Emma pain, the offender failed to comply with instructions to have her groomed.

RSPCA WA returned to the property with a warrant and seized Emma due to suspected animal cruelty offences.

At RSPCA WA’s Animal Care Centre in Malaga vets found that, in addition to the severe matting, Emma was suffering painful dental disease requiring 10 extractions. She also had a grass seed embedded in her ear.

Today, Emma is much healthier and happier. She continues to recover in foster care. RSPCA WA Inspector Manager Kylie Green said grooming was not optional when you have a dog who doesn’t shed.

‘A matted coat can quickly become a welfare concern. It will pull on your dog’s skin, restrict their movement, and can lead to terrible eye, ear, and skin infections,’ she said.

‘Regular grooming is a cost and time commitment that owners need to factor in before they take on breeds like poodles and Maltese-crosses.

‘If you’re in a situation where you can no longer care for your pet, reach out to friends, family, or a rescue group as soon as possible. It’s never OK to ignore your pet’s pain or discomfort.’

The offender was sentenced under sections 19(1) and 19(3)(h) of the Animal Welfare Act 2002. The court found Emma had suffered harm which could have been alleviated through reasonable steps.

The RSPCA relies on the community to report incidents of suspected cruelty and neglect. Report cruelty 24/7 on 1300 CRUELTY (1300 278 358) or at rspcawa.org.au