10 January 2022

A 47-year-old man from Borderdale in the State’s Great Southern has been convicted of animal cruelty, after failing to seek vet treatment for his three elderly kelpies.

The Katanning Magistrates Court heard the offender failed to treat painful arthritis in his dogs—Rusty, Big Dog and Good Dog—who were having great difficulty standing up and walking.

The offender has been given an eight-month community-based order, banned from having a dog for two years (suspended for one year if the community-based order is successfully completed), and ordered to reimburse RSPCA WA for $5000 of the money spent obtaining veterinary care for Good Dog.

RSPCA WA was alerted to the plight of the dogs in October 2020, following a cruelty report made by WA Police.

An RSPCA inspector went to the offender’s property and found Rusty very underweight, with the outline of his ribs, hips, and backbone visible. He was also struggling to walk.

Big Dog had muscle wastage over his hips and back legs, and a noticeable limp, while Good Dog was chained to a tree, with a metal drum for a kennel. He was also thin, with the outline of his ribs visible.

The inspector issued a written direction for the owner to seek vet treatment for the dogs.

However, during subsequent property checks, all three dogs were having increasing difficulty getting up and walking. Big Dog was found lying in his own faeces, and Rusty was limping so badly he ‘almost crawled’.

As well as ignoring direction notices to seek vet care, the offender also refused offers by the inspector to help with transport, food, and worming. All three dogs were seized and placed in the RSPCA’s care.

External vets found Big Dog and Rusty, both aged around 14 to 15 years, were unable to stand due to chronic pain caused by severe osteoarthritis. Rusty was severely emaciated, with muscle wastage in both hind legs, and chronic flea allergy dermatitis, while Big Dog was found to be incontinent.

Vets administered pain relief and monitored the dogs but determined Big Dog and Rusty were in considerable pain, and euthanasia was the most humane option.

Good Dog was also examined by vets and found to be severely emaciated—weighing just 15kg. He was having difficulty walking due to osteoarthritis, and he was suffering a painful condition to his penis called paraphimosis.

Good Dog—aged around 10—responded well to treatment. He was placed with a foster carer, and with adequate food, medication, and lots of TLC he gained a healthy 4kg in less than a month.

Executive Manager Animal and Enforcement Operations, Hannah Dreaver, said elderly dogs were more vulnerable to neglect, due to their high care needs.

‘It would have taken many months of pain for Big Dog and Rusty to deteriorate to the point where they could barely stand or walk,’ she said.

‘For their owner to sit by and do nothing while they suffered is incomprehensible.

‘It was a sad farewell, but I’m thankful Big Dog and Rusty are no longer suffering, and that we were able to save Good Dog in time.

‘He is now healthy and comfortable in his foster home, and finally enjoying his golden years. Apparently, he spends most of his time napping on one of his many beds.

‘During a pet’s twilight years, we should be renewing our commitment to that animal, not leaving them to suffer.

‘If you’re struggling to provide your animal with the basics—like vet care—please reach out for help sooner rather than later.’

Hannah thanked Kojonup and Mt Barker Vet Hospitals, as well as Kojonup and Tambellup Police for their assistance.

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.