Woman convicted after her dog repeatedly ingested methamphetamines

A 30-year-old Western Suburbs woman was sentenced at Parramatta Local Court on 24 July 2023 in relation to multiple cases of drug poisoning suffered by her pet dog, Loca. Due to the woman’s ‘manifest negligence’ in supervising her dog, Loca repeatedly ingested methamphetamines and, on one occasion, opioids in circumstances that amounted to an act of cruelty.

In February 2022, RSPCA NSW Inspectors commenced an investigation in response to a report about the welfare of a Havanese dog, named Loca, who had been diagnosed with methamphetamine (‘ice’) toxicosis four times in a 12-month period. Records obtained from several veterinary clinics showed that the toxicosis had often been life-threatening, requiring emergency hospitalisation and intensive treatment to stabilise the dog.

RSPCA NSW Inspectors attended three separate properties in Western Sydney in an unsuccessful attempt to locate Loca and her owner.

On 28 May 2022, RSPCA NSW Inspectors were notified that Loca had again been presented to a veterinary hospital. An inspector attended and spoke with the defendant, who said that the dog had not been acting herself the past few days.

When questioned about her dog’s history of ingesting methamphetamine, the defendant claimed that Loca had found and consumed the drug when she was let off-lead in a park at North Parramatta. The defendant said that every time the pair visited the park, Loca would find and eat something. She claimed that each of these incidents were a case of “bad luck”, and that Loca was “looking for trouble all the time.”

RSPCA NSW seized Loca and transported her to a specialist animal hospital for assessment and treatment. A urine test confirmed the presence of opioids in the dog’s system and she was diagnosed with opioid toxicosis.

Sadly, Loca passed away suddenly after a few days in care, with veterinary pathologists unable to determine a clear cause of death.

“How this little dog was able to repeatedly ingest illicit drugs is frankly disgusting,” said RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector, Scott Meyers.

“RSPCA NSW echoes the Court’s view that most pet owners try desperately to do the right thing and to meet their obligations to their animals. But this was a clear and repeated failure of responsibility that caused needless suffering to an animal. It will not be tolerated.”

The defendant ultimately pleaded guilty to one offence of committing an act of cruelty against Loca, in relation to the third, fourth and fifth case of drug toxicosis. In doing so, she admitted to failing to ensure adequate supervision of Loca on three occasions, resulting in the dog ingesting illicit or controlled substances and being unjustifiably inflicted with pain.

The woman was subsequently convicted and sentenced to a 15-month Community Correction Order, with additional supervision by Parramatta Community Corrections Office. The Court also imposed a disqualification order banning her from acquiring, owning, or having anything to do with the care of animals for a period of five (5) years.

The Presiding Magistrate noted the huge allocation of community resources that had been required due to the defendant’s negligence, including the life-saving undertakings made by veterinary staff every time the dog was presented with toxic poisoning.

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