18 December 2020

A 21-year-old Midland man has today been sentenced after being found guilty of two charges of animal cruelty in the Midland Magistrates Court.

He was fined a total of $4000 ($2000 for each charge), and ordered to pay costs of $28,350. He has also been prohibited from owning any animal for 10 years, and his dog has been forfeited to the Crown.

The man was charged with failing to take reasonable steps to alleviate harm to a dog, Angel, and a rat, under Section 19(3)(h) of the Animal Welfare Act 2002.

Angel continues to recover from her poor treatment with an RSPCA WA foster carer however the rat could not be saved.

In January 2020, the RSPCA received a complaint regarding animals being kept at a Midland property.

The offender initially told an RSPCA WA Inspector the brown mixed-breed dog Angel was ‘skinny because she has worms’ however, despite the Inspector providing worming treatment and clear instructions on appropriate feeding, subsequent attendance at the property showed Angel’s condition had not improved.

Despite the man removing Angel from the property for a time and asserting she was at a local vet clinic for treatment, which she was not, the RSPCA was able to locate and seize Angel on 4 March. An examination by RSPCA WA vets revealed she had a body condition score of 2/9 and other signs of ill health. She also had a large laceration to her vulva, the state of which indicated it may have occurred up to 14 days previously.

Due to the seriousness of this injury, Angel was taken to an external vet specialising in canine reproductive anatomy. The examination, including an ultrasound and blood tests, suggested the injury was not caused by whelping, as the man had claimed, and indeed Angel had not given birth to puppies at the time he stated.

On 12 March, the RSPCA returned to the property with WA Police and executed a search warrant. A small cage on the kitchen table was found to have contained a rat, lethargic and hunched over in the corner with his eyes half closed. There was no food or water in the cage.

The Inspector seized the rat, which was stumbling and trembling when removed from the cage, and took him to the RSPCA WA shelter in Malaga where a vet found him to be in need of intensive care. The rat was transferred to an external, specialist vet for 24-hour observation.

On the third day of treatment his health declined even further; the external vet suspected renal failure and recommended his suffering be ended humanely.

Executive Manager Animal and Enforcement Operations, Hannah Dreaver, said the tragedy of both animals’ suffering is that it could have been completely avoided.

“Our animals rely on us totally for their well-being and it is simply not ok to neglect them like this. The rat’s autopsy showed a body score condition of 1/5 and emaciation – he simply wasn’t fed enough and it was too late to reverse the damage,” Hannah said.

“As for Angel, I’m pleased she’s doing well with one of our foster carers but it is still heartbreaking to think of everything she went through unnecessarily – how hungry she must have been and how much pain she suffered.”

“Thank you to the person who noticed something wasn’t right and called our cruelty hotline. We rely on the community to report incidents of suspected cruelty and neglect, so please don’t be afraid to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.

“Thank you so much as well to lawyers Minter Ellison who provided pro-bono assistance in this case.”

RSPCA WA relies on the community to be our eyes and ears. Report Cruelty here.