14 January 2020

WARNING: Graphic details may upset some readers

The discovery of a dead dog and a severely emaciated puppy at a house in Collie has led to animal cruelty convictions for a man and a woman in the Bunbury Magistrates Court today.

The 22-year-old man from Collie received a conditional eight-month jail term, suspended for 12 months. The woman, also 22 and who now lives in Carey Park, received $8000 in fines. Both were also banned from owning animals for five years and have each been ordered to pay $350.70 in costs.

RSPCA inspectors went to the offenders’ then Collie home in May 2019 after receiving a cruelty complaint. The caller had described two young Staffy-cross breeds whose hip bone, spine and rib outlines were clearly visible. The complainant said the dogs had been on the ‘leaner side’ for the past five months, but their body condition had worsened since then.

The inspectors saw an extremely underweight white and tan puppy, around seven months old, in the back yard. Food and water bowls were dry and empty. The inspectors couldn’t see a second dog.

Accompanied by two Collie Shire Council rangers, the inspectors cautioned the male offender who told them the male dog, Charlie, had passed away the day before. He said the female dog, Lily, had had a ‘rough’ stomach for the past couple of weeks, but he hadn’t taken her or Charlie to a vet.

The male offender also told the inspectors he had had memory problems for the last eight months and would feed the dogs every night, if he remembered.

The inspectors excavated the area where Charlie was buried and found the body of a male brindle and white dog. Charlie’s body was severely emaciated with all bones prominent.

An initial examination of Lily by Collie Veterinary Services found she was suffering extreme emaciation and had the lowest body condition score possible—zero out of five. This indicated an extended period of malnutrition, likely spanning several months, which could only be the result of drastic underfeeding. She was also dehydrated.

After three months of care and treatment at the RSPCA in Malaga, Lily had reached ‘ideal body condition’. She has since been adopted and is in a loving home.

A post-mortem on Charlie at Murdoch University revealed he was severely emaciated at the time of death and was suffering a syndrome caused by malnutrition. His stomach, oesophagus and mouth contained undigested dry dog food which suggested Charlie had gorged the food shortly prior to his death. The food had become stuck in his airway with the vet ruling asphyxiation as the final cause of death.

Inspector Manager, Kylie Green, said it was heartbreaking to think how much Lily and Charlie had suffered.

'Looking at the vet report, these dogs would have been hungry and thirsty for months on end’, Kylie said.

'How anyone can see their pets suffering and just ignore it day after day is beyond comprehension.

'It is a criminal offence to neglect your animals. It is your responsibility to give them the food, water and care they need.'

Kylie thanked Cathryn Joyce from King & Wood Mallesons for providing pro bono legal services as well as Collie Shire rangers, Collie Veterinary Services and Murdoch University 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.