An elderly man who shot and killed his neighbours’ two dogs after they strayed onto his property was sentenced in the Elizabeth Magistrates’ Court this morning.
The incident happened on a property at Riverton, in the State’s mid-north, on 11 December 2018. The dogs’ owners alerted police after their pets escaped from their home and failed to return. They had heard gunshots on the morning of 11 December and, fearing the worst, had driven around the area but failed to find their dogs.
When asked by his neighbours if he knew where the dogs were, the defendant initially said he had “shooed them away”, but on December 15 he admitted to them that he had shot their dogs and dumped the animals’ bodies on his property.
Yoda and Darcy with their 12 puppies, born in March 2017.
(Owner Brad Elson said he is grateful that they decided to keep one of these puppies, named Daisy, as a legacy of the dogs his family lost.)
When SA police officers attended at the neighbour’s property, he directed them to the location of the bodies.
On Monday 15 March 2021, the 72-year-old defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of ill-treatment of an animal causing death or serious harm. The two dogs, a five-year-old golden Labrador named Darcy and a four-year-old black female Labrador named Yoda, died after the neighbour fired at them with a shotgun.
RSPCA South Australia Chief Inspector Andrea Lewis said it was deeply concerning that the defendant had thought he was within his rights to shoot the dogs because they had strayed onto his property.
“These were both friendly-natured family pets, they were not harming anyone or anything, they had simply wandered off their property and tragically ended up being in the crosshairs of a shotgun,” Inspector Lewis said.
“We hope today’s court decision makes it clear where the law sits in terms of dealing with animals that stray onto your property.
“You are certainly not within your rights to shoot stray dogs that are not threatening people or animals.”
The defendant was convicted and fined $4,900, and ordered to pay the dog’s owner $2,800 in compensation.
RSPCA South Australia is the state’s only animal welfare charity with inspectors empowered to prosecute animal cruelty under SA’s Animal Welfare Act.
Members of the public who witness animal cruelty or neglect are urged to immediately call RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty report hotline on 1300 477 722.