Man banned from owning pets after failing to go to vet

By Sandra Conchie of the Bay of Plenty Times -
The injured pup had traumatic damage to the spinal cord, fractures to his left front limb and an inflammatory bone disorder. Photo / Supplied
The injured pup had traumatic damage to the spinal cord, fractures to his left front limb and an inflammatory bone disorder. Photo / Supplied

A man has been sentenced to 100 hours' community work and banned from owning domestic animals for five years for failing to get vet treatment for his seriously injured pup.

An SPCA welfare inspector seized the five-month-old puppy from Sione Penisimani's Te Maunga, Tauranga home on November 9 after a member of his family reported it.

The caller said the puppy had not been able to stand or move for 3-4 days and was refusing to eat. She had repeatedly urged Penisimani, 24, to take it to the vet.

When the inspector visited they found the pup lying inside a basket. It was trembling, had laboured breathing and screamed in pain when the inspector tried to lift it. X-rays revealed three prominent injuries - traumatic damage to the spinal cord, fractures to the pup's left front limb and an inflammatory bone disorder. The vet thought the dog had suffered significant trauma on one or more occasions.

The dog was given pain relief, but failed to improve and was put down on November 14.

Penisimani told the inspector his partner had phoned a vet clinic and was told the vet bill could be paid off but he failed to seek treatment.

He pleaded guilty to two neglect charges under the Animal Welfare Act in Tauranga District Court yesterday of failing to ensure his dog received the appropriate care and veterinary treatment to alleviate any unnecessary pain or distress.

Rachael Adams, prosecuting lawyer for Tauranga SPCA, told Judge Ian Thomas a fine would be an inadequate sanction and sought a five-year disqualification from owning another dog or cat.

"This was a sustained case of neglect and deterrents must be a primary focus in incidents of serious neglect such as this. It is clear the puppy suffered considerable pain for a period of at least two weeks, and no doubt considerable fear and confusion as well."

Penisimani's lawyer Jason Owers said his client and partner were between jobs and did not have the funds to pay for the treatment. "He is very remorseful ... This is very much a lesson learnt and the message about the importance of seeking vet treatment has come through to him loud and clear."

Judge Thomas told Penisimani his offending was serious. "When you take on the care of a small animal, Mr Penisimani, you take on that responsibility for life. I agree with Ms Adams that financial constraints are not an excuse.

"I'm informed by Mr Owers you were once a community support worker. It's a pity you didn't show the same level of care and attention to your puppy to alleviate its considerable pain and distress."

Penisimani has also been ordered to pay $657.97 reparation to Tauranga SPCA.

Outside court Penisimani declined to comment.

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