An Auckland woman who starved her two dogs and left them living in their own waste was sentenced today.
The samoyed and a siberian husky, were found by an SPCA Auckland inspector in September last year in Pamela De Vere's garage without food or water.
The dogs had no outside access and had been forced to live in their own waste. The dogs' coats were unkempt and smelled strongly of urine. The pair were also malnourished and dehydrated, their long fur hiding prominent back, rib and hip bones.
Two cats were also discovered at the property in a cage with no food or water. Their bedding was piles of layered newspaper that was never cleaned out or replaced. The stench from urine and excrement was overwhelming. It is believed that the cats rarely, if ever, spent time out of the cage.
The dogs and cats were seized by an SPCA inspector and assessed by a vet. The dogs weighed around 8kg when seized by the SPCA. Dogs their size should have weighed between 16 and 23kg. They were brought back to full health by SPCA Auckland and rehomed.
Second discovery of ill-treatment
This is the second time De Vere has been discovered ill-treating animals. A search warrant was carried out by an SPCA Auckland inspector in 2012, who found two malnourished dogs.
The dogs were temporarily seized and brought back to full health by the SPCA.
De Vere was educated on proper animal care and the dogs were returned, conditional on regular weight checks at her local vet.
Shortly after the return of the dogs De Vere told the SPCA that one of the dogs had been rehomed and the other had died and she no longer owned any animals.
This proved to be untrue after the SPCA discovered one of the original dogs, as well as a new dog, in her care when carrying out a routine follow up visit to determine whether De Vere was properly caring for the animals.
The SPCA proactively checks on all animal owners who have been re-educated on the proper care of animals.
SPCA sought tougher sentence
De Vere was disqualified from owning animals for five years. The judge took into account the fact that De Vere has already been without any animals for two years since the offending, meaning she has been disqualified for three years.
The SPCA sought an eight-year disqualification.
SPCA Auckland CEO Andrea Midgen said she would have liked to see a longer disqualification period handed down.
Midgen said the organisation tries to educate animal owners in the first instance, as it's one of the most effective ways of ensuring animals are well cared for long-term.
"Taking animals off owners is sometimes necessary to remove an animal from immediate harm, but it doesn't necessarily teach the owner how to better care for animals in future, and therefore doesn't stop the cycle of neglect," she said.
"When education fails and animal owners continue to offend, the SPCA will seek criminal charges. Ignorance is one thing, blatant disregard for a living creature's health and well-being is another, and one that demands legal consequences.
"Ultimately this case has a really great outcome in that Selena is happy, healthy and has a wonderful forever home.
"However, in a case like this with such serious long-term neglect, we would have liked to see a longer disqualification period handed down by the courts. We believe that taking action through the court is essential to ensuring animal offenders can't hurt animals again - and being disqualified from owning animals is key in this."