A former guard dog business operator was last week fined in court for failing to take reasonable steps to alleviate the pain and suffering of an elderly Rottweiler dog.
The 11-year-old dog, named Benny, was suffering from severe and untreated arthritis when seized by RSPCA South Australia Inspector Cheryl in May 2017.
Inspector Cheryl found Benny lying on the ground and barely able to lift his head or walk.
Despite his severe condition, Benny’s former owner still had the Rottweiler employed as a guard dog at a vacant Marleston commercial property on Adelaide’s west side.
In an expert witness statement, a veterinary surgeon who examined Benny after his seizure stated that the dog had been “in severe, debilitating discomfort from advanced arthritic disease for at least three months”.
Inspector Cheryl said a veterinarian had previously prescribed pain medication for Benny, but it was apparently never purchased nor administered.
‘Guard dogs often don’t lead very good lives’
“Guard dogs living on business properties used to be the norm. But as people have become better educated about good animal welfare, it’s becoming no longer acceptable in the public eye to keep dogs in conditions like that,” Inspector Cheryl says.
“Unfortunately, it’s still legal to have guard dogs. While basic needs are mostly met, they often don’t lead very good lives. Guard dogs are often locked up all day and only let out at night, often only fed six times a week and never given any mental stimulation or environmental enrichment.
“Many of these dogs start their lives as family pets and end up as giveaways where they are purchased cheaply or at no cost by guard dog companies.
“It’s not a good life at all for an animal. And especially not when guard dog owners don’t give their animals basic care.”
Inspector Cheryl urged business owners to use alternative methods to secure their properties, such as security cameras and sensor alarms.
$1,500 fine for guard dog business owner
Sadly, a veterinary surgeon had no choice but to euthanase Benny on humane grounds a day after his seizure, freeing him from the pain he had endured for so long.
In Adelaide Magistrate’s Court last Thursday, the defendant pleaded guilty and was fined $1,500. He was also ordered to pay $3,225 in veterinary and legal costs.
The magistrate banned the defendant from owning all animals indefinitely, aside one companion dog, but opted not to record a conviction.
It’s not the first time this owner has faced court on animal cruelty charges.
The defendant was previously convicted and fined in November 2009, after being prosecuted by RSPCA South Australia for failing to treat another Rottweiler guard dog, which had been seized with a severe and ulcerated mammary tumour.
“This second case showed he had not learned at all. This was his business – we would have expected him to treat his animals far better,” Inspector Cheryl says.
The City of Port Adelaide Enfield also took action against the defendant in 2017, after two of his guard dogs pulled a cavoodle, being walked by its owner, through a fence and severely mauled it. The cavoodle later had to be euthanased due to the extent of its injuries.
It is understood the defendant has now sold the business.
RSPCA South Australia is the state’s only animal welfare charity empowered to prosecute animal cruelty under SA’s Animal Welfare Act. If you see animal cruelty or neglect, please immediately call our 24-hour hotline on 1300 4 777 22. Learn more here.