Puppy Breeder Convicted of Aggravated Animal Cruelty

Last week, 68-year-old Goulburn resident Elaine Parsons appeared before Magistrate Beattie at Goulburn Local Court, having pleaded guilty to eight counts of animal cruelty. The Court heard that the charges arose out of one of the largest puppy breeding operations in RSPCA NSW Inspectorate history, during which 96 dogs and puppies were seized.

Exposed sheds where the animals were being housed

The plea included one offence of aggravated animal cruelty – the most serious offence available under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (NSW) 1979 – relating to a severely hydrocephalic Cavalier King Charles puppy. Hydrocephalic puppies suffer from a build-up of fluid in the cavities deep within their brain, causing a large dome-shaped head, extreme pain, seizures and blindness. The maximum penalty for aggravated animal cruelty is two years imprisonment and/or a fine of $22,000.

The remaining charges related to failure to provide veterinary treatment to 51 dogs for severe dental disease, dogs with difficulty breathing, dogs with eye conditions, 60 dogs with intestinal parasites and 96 dogs with flea infestations, as well as 66 dogs with ear infections. The maximum penalty for offences of failing to provide veterinary treatment is six months imprisonment and/or a fine of $5500.

Ms Parsons was convicted, and for the aggravated cruelty received a two-year community corrections order. For the remaining charges, she received a combination of community release orders. These are subject to conditions that Ms Parsons not commit any other offence and will appear in Court if called upon to do so. After amendments were made to the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act (NSW) 1999, these community release orders replace the section 9 good behaviour bonds that were previously available. Following the convictions, the Court prohibited Ms Parsons from owning or having in her possession more than five desexed adult dogs for a period of five years.

Beagle and Pug amongst rusty food dishes and contaminated pellets

In agreed facts tendered, the Court heard that Ms Parsons had been breeding puppies to provide income for herself and as a hobby.

Magistrate Beattie told Ms Parsons whilst sentencing her that, “The animals were clearly suffering because you were unable to look after them. You were using these animals for a business, breeding and selling the puppies.” She continued, “The order I am about to make will prevent you from using dogs to breed.” The Court noted that they were serious charges, and that sentencing “needed to reflect that, and to send the message to the community that it is not appropriate behaviour.”

RSPCA inspectors attended the premises with a veterinarian on 7 June 2017 as the result of a complaint regarding the welfare of a large number of puppies and dogs being used for breeding purposes. During the inspection it was very cold, and 38 pens containing assorted dogs were found. The animals were suffering from a number of obvious medical conditions, including dental disease, ear infections, fleas and eye problems. The dogs were shivering, and some of them were hypothermic. The floors were covered in sawdust and lime, and the feed and water bowls were contaminated with urine and algae.

Container filled with dirty green water that was provided for the dogs to drink

96 dogs were seized and taken to the RSPCA for veterinary assessment and treatment. The Cavalier King Charles puppy was deemed cruel to be kept alive because of the severe hydrocephalus and was humanely euthanised. RSPCA NSW has a large network of supportive and dedicated rescue groups that made it possible for 45 of the dogs to be transferred to rescues, where they could then be rehomed. 38 were adopted through RSPCA NSW, finding new forever families to care for them.

A female Dachshund suffering from severe dental disease. Download all high res images here.

RSPCA NSW takes complaints relating to companion animal breeders very seriously. Deputy Chief Inspector Scott Meyers commented, “Unfortunately, many breeders across the state may appear reputable to potential buyers, however behind closed doors, their animals are not being given the appropriate shelter or veterinary care. RSPCA NSW inspectors receive many calls reporting breeding operations like this, and we’re pleased to see that the hard work of our inspectors has resulted in this positive Court outcome.”

When considering buying a puppy, it’s vital to do your research to ensure you’re not unknowingly supporting a puppy farm operation. Some dogs that are bred for a particular ‘look’ (such as Pugs and French Bulldogs with their exaggerated ‘flat faces’) can inherit serious health problems, causing them pain and suffering later on in life.

Be sure to read the RSPCA NSW Smart Puppy and Dog Buyer’s Guide to help you make the right decisions when looking for a new furry best friend.

RSPCA NSW has thousands of puppies and dogs available in our shelters that are looking for loving families to adopt them. If you adopt, you’ll be giving an animal in need the second chance at life that they deserve. All animals adopted from RSPCA NSW also come vaccinated, desexed and microchipped. To see the animals RSPCA NSW currently have available for adoption, please visit www.rspcansw.org.au/adopt.

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

For more information, or an interview with a RSPCA NSW spokesperson, please contact Stefania Kubowicz
Mobile: 0488 905 353 | Email: skubowicz@rspcansw.org.au.