Charlie’s story, part 2: A loving foster family and justice in SA’s courts

September 26, 2018

When you last met Charlie, he was only just beginning to recover from one of the worst cases of starvation we’ve ever seen here at RSPCA South Australia.

(Missed part one of this story? Click to read how a tip off to our 24-hour cruelty hotline led us to find Charlie hidden inside a Sefton Park home.)

When I – Inspector Cheryl – forcibly seized Charlie, he was so thin and frail that he could barely keep his head up. But all that changed when a kind-hearted couple welcomed this elderly dog into their own home.

Charlie with his new owners

Loving new home: ‘He’s part of the family now’

A beautiful couple named Hannah and Barton, wanted to foster and love old Charlie for however long he had left.

“We thought we were giving him somewhere to be comfortable for the rest of his days, we didn’t realise he was a determined boy and would keep going,” Hannah says.

“He’s part of the family now. Seeing what he’d come from to how he is now, it’s amazing, so we’re honoured to be able to make him happy. He’s a good boy… a real trooper, and everybody who knows Charlie, loves Charlie.”

Charlie with his new owner

In addition to his new owners, Charlie also has siblings that love him, including two cats, ducks and chickens. Charlie loves the outdoors, food and sleeping on his owners’ bed. A sweet old man who loves his new life.

The battle to bring justice for Charlie in court

Sadly, cases like Charlie remind us that animal neglect is still so prevalent in our society, and that the existence of RSPCA South Australia is vital to voiceless animals across our state.

The worst was over for poor Charlie – he was out of the woods. However, the battle to bring justice for Charlie had only just begun.

Charlie with his forever family

I worked tirelessly with our legal team to ensure they had all of the details they needed to ensure prosecution of the cruel treatment that Charlie endured.

Many hours were spent on Charlie’s case. From seizing him, feeding him, nursing him back to health and legally ensuring his owner would never neglect an animal like that again.

Magistrate: ‘I regard this as one of the most serious examples of neglect’

It took 10 court appearances, more than half of which the owner refused to appear for. Ignoring court requests, much like she ignored Charlie, it took her being arrested for a resolution.

Much to the relief of the team at RSPCA South Australia, Magistrate Foley saw this situation for what it was – neglect at its worst:

“I am not sure, having sat for a number of years now, and dealt with a number of these cases, that I have seen an animal in poorer condition than this one,” Magistrate Foley said during sentencing.

“Therefore, I regard this as one of the more, or most, serious examples of neglect that I have seen.”

Charlie just after seizure

A sentence of three months’ imprisonment, suspended upon entering into a bond of good behaviour for a period of 12 months ensued. The owner was ordered to pay $6,425 for veterinarian fees, boarding fees and legal fees.

It warms the hearts of all of us here at RSPCA South Australia that the end to Charlie’s story, despite the horrific way in which we found him, was a happy one.

A happy and peaceful home to the end of Charlie’s days

But it’s with great sadness that we report our beloved Charlie has now passed away.

Charlie reminds us that no matter how old, or how dire the circumstances, every life has value. Charlie spent his last year on this earth healthy, happy and very much loved by his foster parents and RSPCA South Australia’s community.

Charlie grew to have a great love of the outdoors, fashionable dog jumpers, and enjoyed playing with his cat and chicken siblings.

He was given a soft and comfortable bed where he liked to spend most of his days relaxing and being warm and cosy in the sun.

Charlie with his favourite toy

Charlie was put to rest by the RSPCA South Australian vet team, in the arms of his foster parents, after enjoying a last meal of his favourite food – a meat pie.

“With great sadness we said goodbye to our dear old boy Charlie today,” his foster mum Hannah said.

“He was more than a foster dog to us. He was very much a loved part of our family. His fighting spirit, will power and determination was absolutely amazing. He will forever hold a special place in our hearts.”

It is with the support of people like you that RSPCA South Australia gave Charlie a happy and peaceful end to his life. A way that most dogs would be thrilled to spend it – with lots of cuddles and the occasional sneaky treat.

Charlie on his favourite bed

Rest in peace, Charlie.

It’s only thanks to community donations that we can help dogs like Charlie regain their health and find a loving foster home to see out the rest of their days. Please donate today to help us help them.

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26 thoughts on “Charlie’s story, part 2: A loving foster family and justice in SA’s courts”

  1. Delyse Smith

    There are many sad stories of animals being abused but this one really made tears come! I felt so emotional when I read that he had passed away after a good year of being loved and cared for, thanks to the RSPCA and Charlie’s new parents. Charlie had a very sad look about him even when he became a loved pet – it seemed to be in his eyes that he was very weary. The sentence of that owner is far too weak. What I want to see is their photograph emblazoned on Facebook and the newspapers, shamed in full view, so that it actually will make them think twice about even looking at a pet. Fines are never enough, jail time is often commuted and it still won’t teach these types of people a lesson but put a picture up there, full face, side face, as a criminal often is pictured and then see how they feel about things.

  2. Andrew Kennedy

    Animal abusers should be locked up
    and the key thrown away!

  3. Sheila Haeusler

    I couldn’t agree more. Evil, heartless humans should be named and shamed to make others think twice about perpetrating the same crime. Alarmingly, there are so many heartless, cruel humans. Thank heavens for those that give a voice to abused and neglected creatures of all kinds.

  4. Terry Haighton

    I do not believe that people like this should be allowed to own any further animals in general, the sentence was far too light, they should also be identified to the public to ensure no animals are either sold or given to them.

  5. Debbie Dunne

    RIP sweet boy Charlie run free xo

  6. Alison Mitchell

    We are far too lenient as a society on animal abuse offenders. Thank goodness we have organisations like the RSPCA who do their utmost to help our animal friends but in reality only scratch the surface.
    Maybe public shaming is the way to get through to the abusers as they don’t give a toss about fines or jail time.
    Thank you to everyone connected with the RSPCA who helped Charlie and other beautiful trusting souls like him and thank you to the caring public who selflessly adopt, foster and donate. We outnumber the bad and we have to keep it that way..

  7. Leah Dean

    It’s about time harsher penalties are handed to the perpetrators, jail time is definitely needed. This type of neglect is happening too often. RIP Charlie x

  8. David & Marie Fluellen

    Just further evidence of how useless our courts are. Gutless and pathetic, quite like Charlies former owner.
    At least Charlie would have felt the love in his final days. Well done Hannah, Barton and the RSPCA. RIP Charlie.

  9. GEOFF

    Thanks guys, at the least Charlie spent his last days happy in a loving home. People guilty of such crimes against animals should feel the full force of better laws!!

  10. Sonia Ackhurst

    RIP dear Charlie. I have no other words to say how I feel about this – utter Shame for those wicked people who do this to animals. What was doe was unforgiveable but thanks to those good people who gave you your last year in happiness.

  11. Sonia Ackhurst

    RIP dear Charlie. I have no other words to say how I feel about this – utter Shame for those wicked people who do this to animals. What was doe was unforgiveable but thanks to those good people who
    gave you your last year in happiness.

  12. kel

    Stories like these continue to show just how cruel, nasty,evil, lacking in compassion, some humans can be. The woman who abused poor innocent Charlie proved she is incapable of acting like a decent human being. Courts need to get way tougher on animal cruelty and extend the same sentences they would if this was a child,because an animal looks to us humans to care for their needs,just as a child does. When the courts fail to give just & adequate sentences to those who perpetuate the hideous crime of animal cruelty, they are also part of the problem, and not part of the solution.
    It’s sad we need the RSPCA, but we do because too many humans show they have no respect for animals in the way they treat them.Thank God for those at the RSPCA who brought Charlie back to health, and Thank God for his foster parents Hannah and Barton for giving Charlie a safe and loving home that he spent his last days in. You all showed Charlie what real love,compassion and devotion is. RIP Charlie your story brought many tears.

  13. Monique B

    Thank you RSPCA and Foster Family x

  14. Leonard Hall

    I just don’t understand why these evil owners were so cruel to Charlie but also had two other dogs. They should have been named and shamed so that EVERYONE knew who they are. It was no doubt published in a newspaper but had the names hidden. R.I.P. Charlie old boy.

  15. Tony

    People such as this should never ever be allowed to have any pets again. I to think this perpetrator of gross negligent of the dog got off lightly. Pleasing too hear that Charlie spent his last days with the love and care that he needed so much.

  16. Deb

    Another suspended sentence! This story is just heart breaking. Poor Charlie only spent one happy year of being loved and cared for. Thank God he got to experience this. I agree 100% with other comments on here. A very long jail sentence should have been given for this despicable act of cruelty and neglect and until the court system toughens up and starts handing out severe punishments for animal abusers these precious beings will continue to suffer at the hands of humans. This woman can count herself lucky that it wasn’t me on the bench. RIP dear Charlie. Run free over rainbow bridge.

  17. Tracey webb

    Rip charlie i cnt beleave what that person done to u i can only imagine what u went through thank god for the rspca an the careing people that .ade ur lsst days as great as they did god bless them i beleave peoe that hurt animals should be named an shamed to stop them from doing it again

  18. Julie

    The previous owners essentially got a slap on the wrist. What a joke. Thank you to Charlie’s fosters for their love and care. Run free at Rainbow Bridge, beautiful boy.

  19. Dawn Ward

    And still the previous ~owners~ ( I would like to use harsher words ) Got away with it all and what happened to the other two dogs they ~own~ ?????

  20. Anne

    People who abuse animals should be prevented from ever owning another animal
    So glad Charlie had a happy last year. The sentence is a joke. They should br publicly named and shamed do we all know to never sell or give them another animal to abuse

  21. Janet Needham

    Well it’s as I said the judicial system is a joke. Why did the previous owner get a good behaviour bond when they had to be arrested to appear in court? That’s by no means good behaviour. Shame on the Judge the penalty was pathetic and so are you why didn’t you take this low life’s ability to had further animals away from them as well? Thank you to the wonder foster home he had in the end. You are true animal Angels you showed Charlie what it was like to be loved and cared for can’t thank you enough 💙

  22. Lyn Hill

    Yes. A picture of face and name for all who hurt animals in a permanent public place that everyone can look at and check for animal sales etc Name and Shame may make them think a bit better and harded.

  23. Pam Reid

    Agree the law does not protect abused / neglected animals. We need harsher penalties. Poor Charlie. I cried soo much for so long. People of this type deserve never to have anything to do with animals ever again. The law needs to come down a lot harder on these arseholes. 😠 😢

  24. Catherine

    “I am not sure, having sat for a number of years now, and dealt with a number of these cases, that I have seen an animal in poorer condition than this one,” And then a suspended sentence? There needs to be fine, costs, jail time and orders they are never to own any animal again. ‘Owning’ animals is a privilege not a right. Animal abusers are at least equal to child abusers and its about time they were sentenced accordingly. Three month suspended? Are we crazy? RSPCA when oh when are you going to do your job? Are you going to appeal this manifestly light sentence? I guess not, so no true justice for Charlie here. nothing will change. 🙁

    1. Hi Catherine, we understand your frustration, but it’s important to remember that RSPCA is only empowered to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty – the penalties are ultimately decided by the courts. It’s also worth bearing in mind that we are a charity and the legal process is hugely expensive; we must ensure our cases and appeals have enough evidence to stand up in a court of law. If you believe this penalty is too light, we’d encourage you to write to your local MP, as Members of Parliament are responsible for setting SA’s Animal Welfare Act. Thank you.

  25. Irene Edgecombe

    The story of Charlie broke my heart, I’m still crying. I just can’t understand how anyone can be so cruel. Thank you RSPCA for rescuing animals that are neglected and ill treated. RIP Charlie you deserve to after all your suffering. Bless the people who gave him happiness in his last year.

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