Cooper & Ruby’s story, part 2: Happy forever homes and a criminal prosecution

September 07, 2018

Locked alone and starving inside a Port Noarlunga South house, Ruby the Staffy cross Bull Terrier was deeply damaged psychologically by the time she was freed by RSPCA South Australia Inspector Verity.

Her road to recovery was long and slow, but eventually the 7-year-old dog learned how to trust again.

Missed part one of this story? Click to read how a person inspecting a neigbbouring rental property discovered Ruby and two other starving dogs, before making a life-saving call to RSPCA South Australia.

Ruby before and after

The case perfectly illustrates the bulk of work RSPCA South Australia inspectors undertake – eight in 10 cases prosecuted in 2017/18 involved neglect rather than deliberate cruelty. Remember: you have the power to help us prevent such animal suffering. Please take our Combat Cruelty pledge today.

Foster care for Ruby: ‘When I got her, she was a mess’

Ruby before seizure

Ruby was so psychologically damaged when seized in April 2016 that it was clear she needed extra special attention as our team worked to bring her back to health. Our busy Lonsdale animal shelter was simply too stressful for Ruby, so we called in Woodcroft foster carers John and Cathy.

“When I got her she was a mess. She wouldn’t hardly leave the house or eat and wouldn’t go in the car. She fretted a lot and was constantly worried,” John recalls.

“It took lots of training and getting her confidence up, but you wouldn’t know her now.

Ruby - photo Alex Beckett 2

“She’s got a few demons still, but she will meet dogs now. She’s about 80% a dog. She does doggy things but she’s still got those demons.”

Temporary care becomes a loving forever home for Ruby

Ruby with owner John Venning - photo Alex Beckett

Six months later, in October 2016, John got the call: Ruby had finally been legally placed into RSPCA’s care, meaning she could now go up for adoption.

“I decided I couldn’t give her back as she’d just go backwards. She just trusts me and my wife explicitly. That’s why we decided to adopt her,” he explains.

Ruby with owner John Venning - photo Alex Beckett

“I’m retired and home a lot so we go out on walks every day, go to the beach every Sunday morning.  I’ve got her paddling in ponds now down at the beach. It took me a long time just getting her to trust me and trust what’s going on.

“She’s safe and very happy in herself now. We don’t have kids, so she’s our baby. She’s ours for life.”

Ruby - photo Alex Beckett

Says Inspector Verity, who investigated Ruby, Cooper and Ralph’s case: “For a dog that understandably has major trust issues, that sort of commitment from a foster carer truly saves lives.”

Justice for starved dogs in Christies Beach court

Almost two years after Ralph, Ruby and Cooper were seized, their former owner finally faced Christies Beach Magistrates Court on June 12, 2018.

In his sentencing remarks, Magistrate Brian Nitschke described the defendant’s actions as “… an appalling breach of trust towards these animals.

“These animals cannot feed themselves. They cannot particularly complain to anybody else, and they rely upon the owner to take care of them and provide them with adequate food. You singularly failed to do so over a significant period of time … You are lucky not to be going to jail.”

Ruby - photo Alex Beckett

Magistrate Nitschke handed down a six-week suspended jail sentence and ordered the defendant pay $2,000 in veterinary and legal costs. He also banned the defendant from owning all animals indefinitely.

RSPCA South Australia is the state’s only animal welfare charity with inspectors empowered to prosecute animal cruelty under SA’s Animal Welfare Act. But you do have the power to help us prevent such animal suffering. Please take our Combat Cruelty pledge today.

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4 thoughts on “Cooper & Ruby’s story, part 2: Happy forever homes and a criminal prosecution”

  1. Lyn Kohl

    The sentence was no where near enough. The low life should have been jailed for what was done to those poor dogs. So happy that Ruby is so loved now though.

  2. Jean Sinclair

    That sentence is ridiculous. The person subjected those dogs to months of neglect and should have been jailed. Do you get your sentencing from here in the UK, because our laws are stupid too.

  3. qvaken

    Amazing job, John and Cathy. We cared for a dog with special psychological needs for two and a half years, and it was far more challenging than I could ever have imagined. It opened our eyes. Good on you for your dedication and love.

  4. Judith Tilley

    Unfortunately this is how our system seems to work. If we all put up our hands and voice our discust hopefully they will hear our voice and make jail time a condition not always suspend people a week way out.

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