RSPCA ACT inspectors were called on 27 November 2014 to investigate a complaint about the condition of a dog named ‘Lucky’ that was just euthanased by a local vet. The dog was reported to have been extremely skinny with open sores near the scrotum and anus areas filled with maggots. His left eye had a large mass on the upper eye lid which was rubbing on the corner causing severe irritation. He had advanced dental disease and matted hair all over the body. Lucky also had a severe heart murmur. Due to his poor health condition, Lucky had to be euthanised immediately.
RSPCA ACT inspectors tried multiple times to contact the owner, Annette Banks before they were able to reach her. Court documents showed that when asked about the open sores on Lucky’s body, Ms Banks stated, “I don’t know, I didn’t even realise they were there.”
Senior Inspector Catherine Croatto witnessed Lucky’s body after he had been euthanased: “This was a clear case of neglect that had caused this animal to suffer severely prior to his death. His owner showed no empathy or remorse for Lucky’s final state when we interviewed her.”
Inspectors were finally able to locate Ms Banks’ other dog, Rocky. He was seized on 11 December and taken to RSPCA ACT veterinarians to be examined. He was found with generalised hair loss all over his body and an abnormal thickening of the outer layer of the skin. Matting was present on the forelimbs with an ulcer found on one of his toes which was as a result of the matting. Dried discharge was present around both of his eyes with ulcerations over the entire corneas. Rocky also suffered from severely painful dental disease. The tongue had a split down the middle which was healed and most likely the result of a past injury. His nails were overgrown.
The opinion of the veterinarian was that Rocky had a skin disease resulting in hair loss. However, it was his dental disease and severe dry eyes that was causing severe pain. Senior RSPCA ACT Veterinarian, Lillian Wong, examined the dog and stated: “The eyes in particular would have felt like the equivalent of a person not blinking for months. He has lost some of his eyesight as a result. A reasonable owner should have noticed the discharge and discomfort around Rocky’s eyes and skin and sought veterinary treatment.”
On 1 July 2015, Magistrate Dingwall found Owner Annette Banks guilty of two counts for the ‘Failure to Provide Veterinary Treatment,’ and one count of ‘Neglecting an animal in a way that causes it pain.’ She was fined approximately $250 for each animal. For the charge of Neglect, there was no fine. An animal ownership ban was NOT given. Neither was a court order given for Rocky who is still currently in RSPCA ACT foster care.
Senior Inspector Croatto expressed her frustration, “Two dogs have suffered greatly with one dying due to the owner’s neglect. I’m not sure what else we can do to convince the magistrates that the punishment should fit the crime.”
An appeal was requested by RSPCA ACT to the Director of Public Prosecutions based on the weak sentencing and lack of order for Rocky, but was denied.
CEO Tammy Ven Dange exclaimed, “You really have to question the justice system when a person can allow their pet’s flesh to be eaten away by maggots and get slapped with a fine less than a parking ticket. I’m sure that Canberrans are as disgusted as we are by the results of this case.”