When RSPCA South Australia Inspector Ryan first laid eyes on Scarlette, he thought – just for a split second – that the staffy-cross dog had two heads. Then the horrible truth became clear.
Scarlette was suffering a severe prolapsed vulva. An enormous 20cm tumour was hanging between her back legs. She couldn’t even urinate properly.
The 11-year-old dog was also emaciated, had all her incisors worn down to the gumline and nerve endings, and had numerous other pendulous skin masses.
“She looked like a two-headed dog, because the tumour was actually bigger than her head,” Inspector Ryan recalls. He immediately seized Scarlette and began investigating her owner under South Australia’s Animal Welfare Act.
Living in pain for at least 22 months
It soon became clear the Scarlette had lived this way for far too long. Her owner claimed she had recently taken Scarlette to a veterinarian, who had advised euthanasia was the only option.
But when Inspector Ryan called that vet, he was told the recommendation had been made 22 months earlier – her owner had simply failed to act.
It was only when Scarlette escaped her yard one day in December 2016 that a horrified passer-by noticed her condition and called RSPCA South Australia.
“It’s so lucky she escaped, as otherwise she would have just died a very slow and painful death,” Inspector Ryan says.
Justice for Scarlette in court
After her seizure, veterinarians very sadly had no choice but to immediately and humanely euthanase Scarlette to alleviate her suffering, caused by the enormous inoperable tumour.
But Inspector Ryan and RSPCA South Australia’s prosecutors were determined that her death should not be in vain.
In Port Adelaide Magistrates Court on November 17, 2017, Scarlette’s owner, 62-year-old Julie Newman of Glanville, was convicted on one count of failing to mitigate harm.
She received a nine-month good behaviour bond and was ordered to pay $2980 in veterinary and legal costs. She was also banned from owning animals indefinitely.
It is only thanks to that passer-by, who called RSPCA South Australia, that poor Scarlette’s suffering finally came to an end. Please, if you see animal cruelty or neglect, immediately call our 24-hour hotline on 1300 4 777 22.
RSPCA South Australia is the state’s only animal welfare charity empowered to prosecute animal cruelty under SA’s Animal Welfare Act. Learn more here.