No excuse: Owner’s remorse over dogs’ suffering
"There really is no excuse."
The owner of two flea infested dogs candidly admitted to an Ipswich magistrate on Thursday that they should have taken better care of their pets.
Clearly remorseful, Kevin Hughes said he accepted responsibility for the poor condition of his dogs Buster and Dozer, who were found by RSPCA inspectors with hair loss, flea infestation and hookworm.
Despite being given a second chance, with the dogs returned to his care, RSPCA inspectors returned some weeks later only to find both dogs were still being neglected.
Kevin George Hughes, 56, a disability pensioner from Riverview, and his girlfriend Melinda Caroline Dawson, 39, from Greenbank, each pleaded guilty to charges under the Animal Care and Protection act of breaching their duty of care by failing to provide appropriate living conditions to both animals at Riverview between February 19, 2019 and March 7, 2019; and failing to provide the necessary treatment for medical conditions including flea allergy dermatitis.
Hughes also pleaded guilty to failing to comply with requirements of an RSPCA animal welfare direction between April 1, 2019 and June 18, 2019.
RSPCA prosecutor Shauna Smith said Dozer was a white and black Bull Arab cross, and Buster an English Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
She said Dozer and Buster were confined to a yard littered with rubbish. Both suffered health issues with fleas, skin dermatitis and hookworm.
Ms Smith tended photos of the dogs.
She said inspectors made further visits to the Riverview property in late February noting their ongoing poor condition.
Dozer had a skin issue and hair loss over his back, and a large mass (hernia) on his rump. Buster had significant fur loss, and skin inflammation.
Both dogs were seized on March 6 and taken to RSPCA Wacol for veterinary care.
The vet found Dozer's health issues had likely been present for weeks or months. There was also muscle wastage in both back legs.
Buster had dental disease, a moderate flea burden with flea dirt present, had pruritic (itchy) skin and tested positive for hookworm.
Hughes told the inspectors he spent $100 on worm and flea treatment for the animals in the previous month.
With Hughes and Dawson promising to get the dogs the proper care the animals were returned on March 29.
Ms Smith told the court that follow-up checks some weeks later showed no physical improvement in the health of the two dogs.
They were taken again on May 29 with Dozer found to be emaciated.
Dozer could not be saved, but thankfully Buster was treated and adopted by a new owner.
Dawson told the court that although they were not her dogs, she accepted responsibility for their neglect.
She said she was dealing with personal drug issues at the time.
"For that I'm very sorry. It will be one of my biggest regrets in my life," she said.
"At the time I was in a bad place, with drugs.
"I plead guilty. I'm going to accept responsibility for what happened."
Hughes told the court he was hardly at the house.
"Yes I failed to look after them," Hughes said.
"Both had been abandoned. Dozer was dumped on my doorstep and I had him for six years and Buster eight years.
"Yes, I had a very good bond with them.
"They were my babies. There really is no excuse."
Magistrate Elizabeth Hall said she accepted their remorse.
She said pets were not just playful friends but required care and could be expensive to own.
Hughes was convicted and fined $1000, with 50% to be provided as moiety to the RSPCA. He must also pay RSPCA costs.
Dawson was convicted and fined $800, with Ms Hall suggesting to Hughes that he help her with the fine considering he accepted more responsibility as the dogs had been his.
Both were issued a prohibition notice, meaning they are not allowed to keep dogs for the next two years unless approved by the RSPCA.