Animal Welfare

Severity appeal dismissed for woman who left paralysed dog untreated

The severity appeal of a 39-year-old woman who was convicted and sentenced in relation to multiple counts of animal cruelty towards her severely neglected, paralysed dog was withdrawn and dismissed, and the conviction and sentence imposed in the Local Court upheld, at the Sydney District Court today.

On 30 August 2019, the woman appeared at Downing Centre Local Court where she received an aggregate sentence by way of a 10-month intensive corrections order, subject to conditions that during the term of the order she is of good behaviour, appear before the court if called upon, and undertake 75 hours of community service. She was prohibited from purchasing, acquiring, taking possession or custody of any animal for five years.

The dog, a black and white Maltese cross Jack Russell Terrier named JayZ, was only able to move himself by dragging his two hind legs at the time he was seized from a Lilyfield unit by an RSPCA inspector on 27 February 2019. The woman said she had attempted to use a spray and bandage to cover the wound before leaving him at the unit in her mother’s care and going on a four-day cruise.

An RSPCA vet found the dog had an open wound exposing bone on his right hind leg that measured 35 square centimetres, alopecia hair loss, muscle wastage in both hind limbs, a dried and swollen penis, fleas, periodontal disease and overgrown nails in both forelimb dew claws.

After a comprehensive physical examination of his condition, the veterinarian deemed it cruel to keep the dog alive and he was humanely euthanised.

The veterinary report concluded that the paralysis of the dog’s hind legs was likely caused by untreated intervertebral disc disease. As a result of dragging his hind limbs, constant pressure was placed on his ankle joint leading to an ulcerated wound that became so severe that the bone became exposed.

Anemia was detected, likely caused by his flea burden or blood loss from his open wound. The dog had needed vet treatment for periodontal disease for at least three months prior to examination. He had needed treatment for fleas for at least two weeks prior to examination, and treatment for ear infections for at least one week prior to examination. The District Court judge commented in dismissing the appeal that it is because, “…these living animals are so dependent on us that we have a high duty of care. It’s because of that, that if I were sentencing you at first instance, I would have been looking at a more serious penalty. It’s not just you…there’s too much animal cruelty in our community.”