21 March 2024

A 46-year-old man has been charged with animal cruelty after he allegedly failed to seek appropriate veterinary care for his puppy who had been hit by a car. It is also alleged he then tried to hide the puppy from RSPCA WA.

An RSPCA WA inspector attended the man’s St James’ property in October 2023 after receiving a cruelty report about a four-month-old Staffordshire terrier-cross puppy who had allegedly been left untreated for more than a week after being trapped under the wheel of a car.

The accused informed the inspector that the puppy had been taken to the vet by another male occupant of the house and that her injuries had ‘pretty much healed’. However, upon seeing the puppy the inspector observed she was reluctant to stand up and her left hind leg was swollen. The puppy was limping when encouraged to walk and was only able to take a few steps before lying back down again. She also had red open wounds on the front of her head and her thigh area.

The male occupant who was said to have taken the puppy to the vet told the inspector the veterinarian had administered pain and anti-inflammatory injections and advised she was not concerned about broken bones.

Investigations revealed the emergency vet had only been able to provide basic first aid to the puppy due to the owner’s financial constraints but had given the man strict instructions to take the puppy to their regular vet the following day.

The inspector gave the accused a direction notice to take the puppy to the vet within 24 hours and to contact her if he could not comply. After several repeated attempts to ensure the puppy was taken to the vet and a second notice issued, the inspector attended the property with WA Police officers.

The accused said he had planned on taking the puppy to the vet, but she had run away through an open fence, and he could not find her. He denied accusations of hiding the puppy.

Further investigations led the inspector to locate the puppy at a different location, which the accused allegedly organised to hide the puppy from the inspector. The puppy was transported to RSPCA WA Animal Care Centre in Malaga where it was found she was suffering from a painful fractured pelvis.

The puppy received the required treatment and continues to recover in RSPCA WA foster care. The accused has been charged under sections 19(1), 19(3)(h), 40(2) and 76(c) of the Animal Welfare Act 2002. RSPCA WA will allege he was cruel to an animal in that he allowed the puppy to suffer harm which could have been alleviated, did not comply with a written direction notice, and gave false information to an inspector.

The maximum penalty for an animal cruelty charge is a $50,000 fine and five years in prison and both failure to comply with a direction notice and giving false information attract maximum fines of $20,000 and one year in prison.

The charge will be heard in Perth Magistrates Court on 12 April 2024.

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.