8 April 2024

In Midland Magistrates Court today a 54-year-old Eden Hill man was sentenced to six-months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, for failing to seek medical care for his 18-year-old Labrador-cross named Bear. He was also prohibited from owning animals for five years.

RSPCA WA inspectors attended the man’s Eden Hill property in March 2022 after receiving a report about a dog which looked as if ‘all of his insides had come out’. The offender told them he had a ‘poor old dog’ who’s condition was ‘terrible’.

The inspectors found Bear unresponsive with a rockmelon-sized growth on his anal region which had open wounds, was emitting an offensive odour and attracting flies and maggots. Bear was also underweight, with the outline of his ribs, hips and spine visible, and he had a distended abdomen. He also had sunken eyes with discharge coming out of them, and a chronic skin condition.

The offender told one of the inspectors that Bear’s condition had deteriorated since December 2021 however he hadn’t taken him to a vet. He surrendered Bear to RSPCA WA and the dog was transported to the Animal Care Centre in Malaga for immediate assessment and treatment.

An RSPCA WA vet noted Bear was severely emaciated with a body condition score of 1/9, with 5/9 considered ideal. He was also suffering from dehydration, severe dental disease, severe osteoarthritis, and chronic skin disease. His large perianal mass was ulcerated and had become necrotic.

The mass had a very foul odour of rotting flesh and infection, and caused considerable pain when Bear was sitting, standing, moving his tail, or defecating. The vet observed Bear was suffering from extreme pain and his mass was inoperable. He was humanely euthanised.

In sentencing, Magistrate Gregory Benn said this was an “extreme case of neglect”, labelling the offender’s action “outrageous” and “disgusting”. Further, he said the offender’s behaviour “defies any kind of understanding”. He said Bear’s condition was “visibly horrific” and did not happen overnight.

“(Bear was a) totally vulnerable animal (and) was absolutely starving,” he said. “(Bear) was totally helpless and at (the offender’s) complete mercy. (Bear) deserved a better end to (his) life.”

RSPCA WA Inspector Manager Kylie Green said the offender had no excuse for letting his dog suffer in this way. “It was very clear Bear was suffering and in need of immediate veterinary care,” she said.

“Our pets rely on us for all aspects of their care, including when they are nearing the end of their life. Bear’s suffering could have been avoided if his owner had taken action when his tumour first started to grow.”

The offender was charged under sections 19(1) and 19(3)(h) of the Animal Welfare Act 2002. He was found to have been cruel to an animal in that he allowed Bear to suffer harm which could have been alleviated by taking reasonable steps. The maximum penalty 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.