Suspended jail sentence for Mt Gambier man who starved two dogs

August 21, 2019

A 61-year-old Mt Gambier man was yesterday given a suspended sentence in the Mt Gambier Magistrate’s court following guilty pleas to charges of aggravated ill-treatment of an animal causing death, and ill treatment of another animal.  The charges related to two dogs, both found in emaciated condition.  One of the dogs was deceased.

Regan Howe was also ordered to pay RSPCA South Australia legal and veterinary fees totalling $569.15.

(Under South Australia’s Animal Welfare Act, the maximum penalty for aggravated offences of animal cruelty carry a maximum penalty of four years in jail or a $50,000 fine. For non-aggravated offences involving the ill treatment of an animal the maximum penalty is two years in jail or a $20,000 fine.)

On 27 July 2018 an RSPCA South Australia inspector attended a property in Mt Gambier following a cruelty report about two dogs. The inspector found the body of an emaciated nine-year-old Staffordshire Terrier cross named Pig in a corner of the backyard.

There was no food or water in the backyard, and no adequate shelter.

A second dog, a three-year-old American Bulldog cross named Opie, was found locked in a laundry, the floor covered in urine and faeces.

This dog was also in an emaciated state, with a BCS (body condition score) of 1.5/9 (on the BCS index, 1-3 is underweight, 4-5 is ideal and 6-9 is overweight/obese). The dog was also found to be anaemic and flea-ridden.

The court heard Howe had agreed to feed and care for the two dogs when their owner moved out of the premises in early March 2018. Howe received monies from the dogs’ owner to cover the cost of their food.

In sentencing, Magistrate Teresa Anderson sentenced Howe to 4 months and 1 week imprisonment which was suspended upon entry into a good behaviour bond of 12 months.

RSPCA South Australia Chief Inspector Andrea Lewis described the case as a tragic reminder of the responsibilities involved when agreeing to take on the care of animals.

“Agreeing to take on responsibility to care for an animal – whether it’s yours or someone else’s – is a decision that should never be taken lightly,” Ms Lewis said.

“Having care and custody of an animal means you have a duty to ensure that the animal is properly fed, housed and cared for in a way that maintains them in good health, both physically and psychologically.

“Leaving one dog to starve and freeze to death in a backyard and another to starve, locked up in a filthy room, betrayed these animals and their owner, who trusted that they were being cared for properly in her absence.”

Howe is banned from owning any animals until further notice.

Opie survived his ordeal and recovered.

RSPCA is the only South Australian charity with legal power to investigate animal cruelty – but inspectors rely on the public to be their eyes and ears. That’s why RSPCA has again launched its Combat Cruelty campaign, which asks South Australians to take the pledge to combat cruelty.


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