Man pleads guilty to securing cable tie around young dog’s muzzle

October 04, 2019

A Mount Gambier man who admitted to securing a cable tie around his dog’s muzzle was today sentenced in the Mount Gambier Magistrate’s Court. He was given a good behaviour bond in the sum of $200 for a period of 15 months.

The defendant was also ordered to pay $1600 in veterinary and legal costs, and was banned from owning any animals for 2 years.

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

The 48-year old man faced charges under South Australia’s Animal Welfare Act of ill-treating an animal in relation to his 11-month-old female German Shepherd, named Chloe. The defendant bought the dog in 2018 from breeders in New South Wales.

Magistrate Fahey heard that on 9 March this year, members of the public alerted both RSPCA South Australia and Mount Gambier police to a dog that was lying down, tethered in the backyard of a home, with a cable tie around her muzzle.

Upon realising that the animal appeared not able to breathe naturally and to be in distress, a member of the public rescued the dog and removed the cable tie. The dog was provided with water, which she drank constantly for a long period. The dog also climbed into a plastic clam shell full of water and lay down.

Chloe was taken to a Mount Gambier veterinary clinic where she was examined, however no physical injuries attributable to the cable tie were identified. Mild hip dysplasia was also diagnosed, a condition that is not uncommon in German Shepherds.

RSPCA South Australia’s Chief Veterinarian Dr Brad Ward said that preventing a dog from opening its mouth would severely inhibited the dog’s ability to regulate its body temperature.

“Panting is the main way in which dogs cool their bodies, because unlike us they do not have an effective system of sweat glands,” Dr Ward said.

“If you prevent a dog from cooling its body in this way, you put it at extreme risk of overheating, particularly in warm weather.

“Dogs must be able to cool themselves through their mouths, not to mention be able to drink and eat with ease.”

The defendant’s lawyer told the court his client had secured the cable tie around Chloe’s muzzle that morning, intending to remove it before he left for work that day. The court was told he later became distracted, resulting in the cable tie remaining in place until she was rescued at approximately 1:30pm. The temperature in Mount Gambier at the time the dog was rescued was between 23C and 25C.

Chloe has now been rehomed.

RSPCA South Australia Chief Inspector Andrea Lewis said the case highlights the need for people to learn about dogs and their care needs before acquiring one.

“This young dog was just doing what young dogs do – they want to chew things, to play and to have company,” Ms Lewis said.

“Tying your dog’s muzzle shut as a solution to stop unwanted behaviour is a shocking indication of how little this person understands dogs and their needs, and begs the question of why he bought such a large, active young dog in the first place.

“You cannot just stick a dog in the backyard, throw it some food every day and think that dog is going to have a happy life or behave in ways you want it to behave.

“We urge people to look into the time and rewards-based training dogs need when deciding whether owning one is a good idea, given their lifestyle.”

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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19 thoughts on “Man pleads guilty to securing cable tie around young dog’s muzzle”

  1. Julia Ruth Dresser

    Very happy to report any animal cruelty that i see

  2. Meagan

    This story is why people should be force in doing a test
    Before owing a pet

  3. Eleanor Lamdin

    Unbelievable but I believe he got off lightly!

  4. Tricia Walsh

    I keep my eyes and ears open, but it’s amazing the people that don’t. That is such a light sentence for such cruelty ????????

  5. Coral Ward

    Too light a sentence, also highlights the ignorance of some owners of animals. All potential new owners need to be vetted somehow, perhaps questionnaires and a reference. Thank goodness the neighbours rescued this dog.

  6. Daniel

    FAR TOO LIGHTLY! Animal cruelty is commonplace these days. Ignorant or just arrogent and cruel. These people treat their animals as property. They are not. They are a member of your family. If that’s not how you feel, then you should not own one. Ever.

  7. Margaret

    Punishment for animal cruelty should be a deterrent. This culprit got off very lightly and he is allowed to own another animal in 2 years time. This punishment will not act as a deterrent for future cruelty by this person and definitely won’t deter anyone else. Much tougher penalties must be implemented including gaol time and bans from owning or having contact with animals in the future.

  8. Frances Round

    So happy this dog has recovered well. The penalty should have been more. Even a jail sentence !!

  9. Kerry

    He should have been banned from ever having an animal in his care again.

  10. Chelsea Farrant

    I don’t know how anyone has the mental capacity to inflict harm and cruelty on innocent animals! It’s absolutely outrageous! He needs to be locked up or undergo some sort of treatment…that poor dog 🙁

  11. Audrey Mitchell

    This fellow got off far too lightly. He should not ever be allowed to have an animal again., How dare he treat a dog so cruelly.

  12. Marg Pedler

    Don’t be frightened to be a ‘dobber’. Take action and speak up!
    You are the animals’ voice, especially in times of need. I have dobbed on many irresponsible animal owners over the years.
    Education is the key and more needs to be done.

  13. Mel

    We need tougher penalities when it comes to animal cruelty. He got off way too lightly! Can’t own an animal for two years??? Really. How about never!!!!

  14. Rosslyn Daff

    Thank goodness there was a caring member of the public who decided to get involved. Our laws are way too lenient in animal cruelity cases. Jail them for a couple of months.


    The law, if you can call it that, needs to get much tougher on any penalties given for cruelty to animals. The perpetrators should be banned from ever owning a pet no matter how severe the offence. The simple fact these so called “people” are inflicting pain on an indefensible animal who cannot defend themselves is barbaric. Perhaps they should even be given a compulsary 3 year period where they HAVE to give so many hours a week at an animal shelter helping walk the dogs, clean the shelters, etc, (& forced to watch poor brutalised animals come in to be nursed back to health) under close scrutinary of staff whereby they may learn to love animals & have a great respect for them. I can see healing taking place by the constant contact with animals each week & I’m sure they will build rapports with certain ones along this road. Having just said NEVER let them own an animal again, should they go thru this mandatory time in shelters with the animals, & they do sincerely change (& people DO CHANGE) then let them become responsible pet owners again BUT with 3 monthly checkups on them & THEIR PETS for a certain period of time, then let them just get on living happily ever after. I understand not everyone will come out of this time spent in shelters squeaky clean, I believe the greater majority will & at least it will be another way too of sorting out possible future perpetrators. I know the greatest issue to come up against this would be staffing but perhaps if volunteers as part of their initial training when they first start at the shelter will be educated on how to work with these people. I know
    I won’t but I would really like to get feedback from you re: my thoughts on this issue as I see it as an extremely positive exercise for both people, animals & the shelters. Thanx for listening & please keep up the good work. Bless you all.

  16. Jane Fisher

    Not a severe enough penalty, this person should have been jailed. I will never understand why cruelty to animals is treated so lightly.

  17. Chris Widmark

    The RSPCA staff see some horrible things that would give me nightmares – they really are very special people.

  18. Wayne Arsenault

    PAMELA SMITH, Very Good Idea but I would rather see these people do Prison time, Minimum 10 to 15 years for abusing a defenceless animal . Then they can follow up with your wonderful advice.

  19. Alice Busuttil

    The penalty was not anywhere near enough..,and he should never be allowed to own an animal ever.RSPCA staff are wonderful in rescuing the poor neglected pet.

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