Bass Hill woman convicted for aggravated cruelty against pet poodle

A 68-year-old woman from Bass Hill was convicted and sentenced in Bankstown Local Court on Tuesday 11 December 2019, following a plea of guilty to the charge of aggravated cruelty upon her Poodle crossbreed dog, Bella.

The woman was sentenced to an 18-month conditional release order subject to conditions that she is of good behaviour and appears before the court if called upon, and further ordered to present to Bankstown Local Court to have her fingerprints and photographs taken.

She also received a prohibition order banning her from purchasing, acquiring, taking possession or custody of any animal for three years.

In an agreed fact document tendered on sentence, the Court heard that on Thursday 14 February 2019, Bella the female Poodle crossbreed dog was presented to a RSPCA NSW veterinarian for euthanasia at the RSPCA NSW Sydney Veterinary Hospital.

Upon examining Bella, the veterinarian concluded that she was in such a poor physical condition that it was cruel to keep her alive. The dog was presented in a moribund state to the point where Bella was unable to sit, stand, or respond to any stimulus and was incontinent.

The dog was very underweight with a body condition score of 4 out of 5, where a score of 1 is “ideal” and 5 refers to a dog that is “emaciated”. Mature and juvenile maggots filled Bella’s right ear canal and were also found on the conjunctiva of her right eye and in her mouth.

The RSPCA NSW veterinarian contacted a RSPCA NSW inspector to examine Bella and video evidence of the dog’s poor condition was recorded before the Poodle crossbreed was humanely euthanised.

A short time later, the RSPCA NSW inspector conducted a record of interview with the woman, who was accompanied by her daughter, where she confirmed that they were Bella’s owners and that she was responsible for the dog’s day-to-day care and veterinary treatment.

The woman further stated that she had not noticed that the dog was losing weight because Bella had “so much hair” and that the dog’s condition “had just developed very quickly”.

The maggot infestation in Bella’s ear was initially denied by the woman until the RSPCA NSW inspector pointed out their presence, to which the woman replied that the maggot infestation was “only just a recent thing”.

In a certificate of expert evidence, the examining veterinarian offered the expert opinion that there was a failure to provide necessary veterinary treatment for poor body condition for a period of not less than seven days prior to the examination, causing unnecessary pain and suffering to the dog. There was also a failure to provide necessary veterinary treatment for myiasis (maggot infestations) and the underlying cause of damage to the skin of the dog.

The maggots were present on Bella for not less than four days prior to the examination, based on the life cycle of flies and minimum period required before mature maggots are visible.

Appropriate veterinary treatment would have ensured that the underlying cause of the dog’s ulcerated or necrotic skin was treated, thus removing or avoiding the formation of the necrotic tissue on which maggots feed, and likely preventing the presence of the maggots entirely.

Photograph depicts maggots inside dog’s ear
Bella3 1
Photograph depicts maggots inside dog’s mouth

Upon sentencing, the Magistrate made remarks about the woman’s “wilful blindness” to Bella’s pain and suffering, stating that any reasonably discerning pet owner would undoubtably have known that the dog required euthanasia some weeks earlier.

RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector Scott Meyers commented on the distressing nature of the case, saying, “Seeing any animal failed in such a serious manner is always difficult to witness. There is no excuse to allow animals entrusted in your care to live in continued pain and suffering.”

“In the condition that the dog was presented, she would have struggled to eat, see, hear, and move. It is your duty as a responsible pet owner to provide adequate care for your animals, including making tough decisions with their welfare front of mind”.

All charges brought under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

For more information, or an interview with a RSPCA NSW spokesperson, please contact RSPCA NSW Media

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