6 February 2024

Three men aged 48, 49 and 71 have been fined a collective $16,250 in relation to a dog found suffering from untreated testicular cancer. All three were responsible for the welfare of the dog in question.

Busselton Magistrates Court today heard 10-year-old Irish wolfhound Houdini was found confined in a small makeshift cage by an RSPCA WA inspector attending a property in Abba River in April 2022.

Magistrate Stephen Butcher labelled the offending as a “very serious example” of its kind.

“(It is) despicable that an animal could be left in such a condition,” he said.

“(It) takes a special type of person to be cruel to an animal…the penalty needs to reflect that.”

The floor of the cage Houdini was found in was covered in fur, mud, wet rags, scrap metal, urine and faeces. 

The inspector noted Houdini was very underweight and had a large wound in between his legs that appeared infected as it was red and oozing blood and puss. 

He was seized due to suspected offences and the urgent need to take him to a vet for assessment and treatment. He had a large testicular mass that was necrotic, painful, and infected; he was dehydrated and emaciated; had a heavy flea infestation; and was in pain and discomfort. 

The vet’s opinion was that Houdini was suffering so severely that euthanasia was the most humane option.

A postmortem confirmed Houdini had testicular cancer which had spread to his lymph nodes and kidney. The size of the mass indicated that it had been present for up to one year.

RSPCA WA Inspector Manager Kylie Green condemned the trio for blatantly disregarding Houdini’s suffering and quality of life.

“The decision to euthanise a pet is extremely difficult and sad, but in Houdini’s case it would have been a true act of compassion,” she said.

“Houdini was being kept in a small, rubbish-filled cage, suffering from testicular cancer, and the people responsible for his care ignored his pain.

“I hope today’s outcome can serve as a reminder to pet owners about their responsibilities. Turning a blind eye to your animal’s suffering is an act of cruelty and could lead to prosecution.”  

All three offenders were sentenced under sections 19(1) and 19(3)(h) of the Animal Welfare Act 2002. The three men were found to have been cruel to an animal in that they allowed Houdini to suffer harm which could have been alleviated by taking reasonable steps.

A prohibition order will be made in relation to the offending on March 5.

The maximum penalty for a charge of animal cruelty is a $50,000 fine and five years in prison. 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.