5 June 2014

Katherine Lisa King, 43, was sentenced in Perth Magistrates Court today after RSPCA inspectors, police and council rangers executed a search warrant on her property in 2012. She was fined $11,000 and prohibited from being in charge of, or being within 10 metres of any animal, for five years.

Kellerberrin bunker King's prohibition order will begin on 4 August 2014 when her current prohibition order expires from her previous conviction under the Animal Welfare Act 2002.

She was also ordered to pay $20,000 in costs.

On 24 January 2012, RSPCA Inspectors assisted Police and council Rangers with the execution of the search warrant on her property and found 50 dogs, which were seized and taken to the RSPCA.

The dogs, of various breeds and age, were roughly segregated according to breed in different areas of the property. The breeds included German Shepherds, West Highland Terriers, King Charles Cavalier Spaniels, Labradors, and Tibetan Terriers among other breeds.

Many of the dogs were found to be suffering from ear mite and secondary infections resulting from failure to treat the conditions by taking the animals to a vet.

An underground bunker was also located on the property; the floor of the bunker was three metres below ground and could only be accessed through a small circular hole with a metal lid, about one metre in diameter.

When the lid was opened there was a stench of animal faeces and urine and 12 dogs were located in the bunker. While there was food and water, the dogs were confined to total darkness during the day with little or no ventilation.

In his sentencing remarks Magistrate Wilson said "the dogs had been placed in an alien and terrible environment and should never have been placed in the underground bunker. There was no sunlight, no fresh air or flow of air and there was a stench emanating from the bunker."

"This is the first time the RSPCA has discovered a puppy farm of this nature in Western Australia and we were shocked to find dogs living in an underground bunker," RSPCA WA Chief Inspector Amanda Swift said.

"We are very pleased with today's court result as it was a collaborative effort between RSPCA WA, WA Police and council rangers," she said.

King was found guilty of being the person in charge of a number of dogs, approximately 50 or more on 24 January 2012 and was cruel to those animals contrary to section 19 (1) of the Animal Welfare Act 2002.

She was also found guilty of being cruel to approximately 12 dogs by ill-treating them by keeping them confined in an underground bunker contrary to section 19 (1) and (2a) of the Act.

King was in charge of approximately 50 or more dogs, a miniature pony stallion and six or more chickens and was in breach of section 55(4) of the Act by failing to comply with an order of the Court which prohibited her from being in charge of, or having contact with any animal for a period of 10 years from August 2004 onwards.

"The RSPCA urges people to be responsible and make informed choices when purchasing a new pet. We have produced a useful guide for the public called the 'Smart Puppy and Dog Buyer's Guide' which provides information on how to best go about finding your new pet," RSPCA WA Chief Executive Officer David van Ooran said.

"I would like to thank our pro-bono lawyer, David Markovich from Murfett Legal who has worked tirelessly for over two years on this case," Mr van Ooran said.