22 March 2023

A 60-year-old man has been given what amounts to a lifetime ban from breeding animals after RSPCA WA inspectors seized 39 labradoodles from his Bridgetown home in January last year.

The offender was banned from owning any animal for 40 years, with one notable exception; the Magistrate ruled he could have up to three sterilised dogs.

The offender, who pleaded guilty to 28 charges of animal cruelty, has also been fined $112,000, $64,000 of which was suspended for two years.

Bunbury Magistrates Court heard the offender was running a breeding operation purely to cash in on the popularity of labradoodles, with no concern for the dogs’ welfare, health, and safety.

He was reported by a member of the public who had been to the house to buy a puppy for $5000. She refused to go through with the purchase after seeing the dogs’ living conditions.

When the RSPCA arrived at the man’s property, the inspector reported finding filthy, squalid conditions reeking of urine and faeces.

There were large piles of rubbish present, a lot of dogs running everywhere that were barking and fighting, and the older dogs had matted and dirty coats with faeces in their fur.

The inspector observed puppies hiding in pools of urine while being stood on by the bigger dogs; some were lethargic, non-responsive and not exhibiting normal behaviour; one was stuck down the side of the bed, and one was seen drinking stagnant water from an open, broken sewerage pipe.

The inspector noted there were wet and dirty dog beds in the corners of the room and no fresh food or water available for the dogs and puppies.

RSPCA WA Inspector Manager Kylie Green said the dogs were seized and, when examined by a vet, found to be suffering from a variety of conditions including ear and other infections, conjunctivitis, embedded grass seeds, heavily matted fur, weight issues and dental disease.

‘A lot of the dogs and puppies were also suffering from significant psychological harm, as determined by a veterinary behaviourist,’ Ms Green said.

‘Some of them just stood in their kennels for weeks after they first came here, staring at the wall and refusing to interact.

‘It’s a credit to our expert staff and network of dedicated foster carers that they’ve come as far as they have, but this is what people need to stop and consider when they are looking to buy a ‘cute’ puppy.

‘If you buy from an unregistered breeder, if you buy off the internet or social media, or if you buy without seeing the puppy is being raised in clean, safe conditions and its mum is happy and healthy, then there’s a chance you are supporting this kind of cruelty.’

Ms Green thanked WA Police, Bridgetown rangers and Boyup Brook rangers for their assistance with this case.

The offender was convicted under section 19 of the Animal Welfare Act 2002. He pleaded guilty to animal cruelty; namely confining or restraining the dogs in a manner that caused or was likely to cause harm and allowing the dogs to suffer harm which could have been alleviated by the taking of reasonable steps.

In sentencing today, the Magistrate ruled that any dogs the offender owns in the future under the conditions of the ban must be registered and microchipped in his name. The offender must also permit visits from RSPCA WA inspectors and rangers to monitor his compliance with the prohibition order.

In addition to today’s prohibition order and fine, the offender was also ordered to pay costs and compensation totalling $28,140.39. All dogs seized by the RSPCA were forfeited to the Crown.

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 online here.