3 most shocking SA animal cruelty cases prosecuted by RSPCA this past year

August 27, 2018

They are the cases that shocked even our most experienced inspectors.

As we throw open our animal cruelty case files for the first time ever, we’ve asked RSPCA South Australia’s small team of nine inspectors which of the 70 cases prosecuted in 2017-18 hit them hardest.

We know these stories are heartbreaking, and so difficult to read.

But we truly believe that it’s only by exposing the level of chronic animal cruelty and neglect within our state that animal lovers can help us – the only charity with inspectors empowered to take legal action against animal abuse offenders – in our fight to combat cruelty.

Case #1: Arthritic Beagle left to waste away in Munno Para backyard

Maddy prosecution case 2017-18-2

It was the agonised, non-stop howling that alerted passers-by to a tragedy slowly unfolding in a Munno Para backyard.

Maddy the 11-year-old Beagle had developed such severe arthritis that her back legs had completely seized up, leaving her unable to walk.

Her family, noticing her condition and realising she could no longer climb their back stairs to reach her bed, had simply placed Maddy on their back lawn, out in the open without any shelter at all.

But worse was yet to come. By the time RSPCA South Australia Inspector Cheryl arrived, in January 2017, Maddy’s hindquarters had become completely infested with maggots.

“It was just horrendous,” Inspector Cheryl says. “She hadn’t been able to walk because her arthritis was so bad. So she’d collapsed and been urinating on herself, which created moisture and brought in the maggots.

“She was just being eaten alive by maggots. It doesn’t get much worse than that.”

Maddy the Beagle prosecution case 2018

Inspector Cheryl promptly scooped Maddy up and took her straight to an emergency veterinarian.

“She cried the whole way to the vet in the back of my van. It was heartbreaking just hearing her. Beagles aren’t really vocal dogs so she must have been in such pain,” Inspector Cheryl recalls.

“Her owner admitted that she had heard Maddy crying all night. She worked, her partner had a job, so they had the means to take Maddy to the vet. They just didn’t. It’s incredibly difficult to understand.”

Maddy dog prosecution May 2018

Veterinarians had no choice but to immediately euthanase poor old Maddy, finally freeing her from weeks of pain and suffering.

In May 2018, the prosecution case against Maddy’s owner was heard in Elizabeth Magistrates Court.

The defendant was convicted of aggravated neglect and received a four-month suspended prison sentence. She was given a 15-month good behaviour bond, was ordered to pay $1,340 in legal and veterinary costs, and was banned indefinitely from owning all animals aside from one already in her care.

“I see a lot of horrendous things in my job, but not such blatant cruelty where people are aware of something so serious and they just walk away,” Inspector Cheryl says. “It beggars belief.”

Case #2: Six dogs trained for brutal canine fighting blood sport

Dog fighting prosecution case 2018-1

We’d held suspicions for months. But it was only after a tip off to our 24-hour cruelty hotline that we were able to secure a warrant – and what our inspectors found inside the Hillcrest property in February 2017 was simply shocking.

Six aggressive dogs, many bearing scars from vicious fights, were chained in the backyard. Inside the house: blatant evidence of a systematic effort to train deadly aggression into each dog.

“We were definitely all quite shocked at just how much evidence there was and how out in the open it was,” RSPCA South Australia Inspector Kristy recalls.

“We seized injectable anabolic steroids and a lot of other prescription drugs, plus a range of equipment obviously used to condition dogs to fight to the death. For example, we found electric shock collars, used to create inter-dog aggression, and several treadmills, which the dogs were forced to run on while bound with weights.

“The dogs themselves had scars across their faces, ears, neck and front legs, and even down their back legs, all obviously caused by fighting.”

Dog fighting prosecution case 2018-2

Over the next six months, Inspector Kristy began building South Australia’s first case against organised dog fighting, spending countless hours collecting more evidence from two mobile phones and a laptop seized during the property raid.

Meanwhile, the six dogs were quarantined in our Lonsdale shelter – their dangerous nature wrought large when one dog attacked an RSPCA staff member, leaving her hospitalised for days.

“It was really difficult, because while they sometimes seemed like quite friendly dogs, they’d been bred, trained and conditioned to attack,” Inspector Kristy says.

“They were unlike any dogs we’ve ever dealt with before. We simply couldn’t trust them. There was no way of knowing if a wrong movement or word was a cue they’d be trained to and would lead to an attack.”

Dog fighting prosecution case 2018-3

Heart-breakingly, RSPCA had no option but to humanely euthanase all six dogs as they posed such a danger to the community.

In April 2018, the case was finally heard in Adelaide Magistrates Court, where the dogs’ former owner Benn Hamilton was convicted of 12 charges related to organised dog fighting. He was sentenced to seven months’ jail and banned from owning animals indefinitely.

That landmark win became the first successful prosecution under amendments to SA’s Animal Welfare Act enacted in October 2015.

“It’s just such a sad case. These dogs were not like normal pets. They’d basically been trained to become dangerous machines,” Inspector Kristy says.

Case #3: Kitten with crushed hind legs ignored for at least two weeks

Duct Tape prosecution case 2018

It’s hard to imagine the terrible pain little Duct Tape must have endured – and he was only a baby, just 12 weeks old.

Seized by RSPCA Inspector Verity from a Marion household in May 2016, Duct Tape was in truly awful condition. His owner told Inspector Verity that the kitten had been squashed beneath a recliner chair at least two weeks earlier – she claimed she had not sought veterinary treatment as she could not afford it.

“It was an accident; but they heard him cry out as he was injured and just didn’t do anything about it,” Inspector Verity recalls. “This poor kitten had no control of it’s back end, so it just had urine and faeces all over him, which had just soaked into his skin. It smelt absolutely awful.

“He was such a sweet little kitten, but he was just dragging himself along by the front paws. It was pitiful. Just pitiful.”

Duct Tape kitten prosecution Feb 2018

Inspector Verity rushed Duct Tape to an emergency veterinarian, who determined there was no option but to humanely euthanase Duct Tape to end his suffering.

“It’s so sad,” Inspector Verity says. “At the very least, immediate veterinary attention could have prevented Duct Tape from several weeks of suffering.”

Duct Tape’s former owner faced Adelaide Magistrates Court on February 8, 2018, pleading guilty to failing to mitigate harm.

She received a 12-month good behaviour bond, was ordered to pay $1313 in veterinary and court costs, and was banned from owning animals indefinitely. The magistrate opted not to record a conviction.

Says Inspector Verity: “I was just astounded that a whole houseful of people had watched this poor kitten struggling in pain and awful distress for several weeks, but had done nothing.

“I was gobsmacked at the lack of empathy for a living, feeling being.”

– – –

In each of these cases, it was only thanks to members of the public, who called RSPCA South Australia, that our inspectors were alerted and able to act.

Ordinary South Aussies truly do have the power to help us prevent and stop animal suffering. Please join us by promising to stand up, speak out and take action against animal cruelty – take our Combat Cruelty pledge today.

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20 thoughts on “3 most shocking SA animal cruelty cases prosecuted by RSPCA this past year”

  1. LindA bayer

    Yes people are becoming less caring, its a shame. We see alot on tv news out in the streets. My heart goes out to defeatless animals even the 6 dogs i am sorry to hear re the staff member. Humans can be so cruel

  2. Delyse Smith

    These are horrendous cases. This part of the sentence for these people who commit these crimes against animals where they are told they are not allowed to keep an animal again – how is this policed? How do you know they’re not going to go around the corner and get another animal in order to do whatever they are planning? How useless is this part of the sentence, I ask myself! Sentences need to be increased for these people. Many who go into prison for a few months are probably quite used to it and use it as a badge of honour in their own cirlces, so not a deterrent in any way. You say it has taken months to build a case against these people. The courts that they are coming up against are not adequate to the occasion. I believe an Animal Cruelty Court is necessary in each State to stop this senseless and cruel torture of animals that will be more adept at judging cruelty in humans towards defenceless animals. However, I applaud the RSPCA for trying their best to hold these people accountable. It’s just that unfortunately they are not enough to stem the tide.

  3. Joel Hendrie

    The people how did these awful things should go to prison 4 a long time if somone can do horribal things to animals what eles are they cabal of doing prison is the only place 4 them and 12 months more like 10 years to life

  4. Sheila Warren

    I took ownership of a little lost dog that was in appalling condition. Rotten teeth, congealed eyes, clumps of fur hanging off her, obviously had had Lord knows how many litter, an umbilical hernia and a mammary gland lump. She also had a n endoscopy as she gagged after having a drink. $900 plus later but I would have paid three times that much for her and I am far from rich. I love her dearly a d would take out a loan if I had to. I do not understand animal cruelty, I think the sentences are far too light. Cruelty to animals is wicked and cannot be condoned. Lock them up, there is no other way to stop it.

  5. Emma

    This is so so sad. I just can’t believe this can happen? I feel so terribly sad for these poor precious angles. I wish I could do something. I’m going to look into pet adoption. I want to help an angles animal and give them a new life! Their owners are no worth mentioning.

  6. Wendy Maddocks

    Well, after getting the guts to even read about these poor poor cases, the thing that sits with me the most is that any Magistrate could possibly believe that a person who let an animal suffer for two whole weeks, being crushed without treatment, is not worthy of even a recorded conviction.
    To me this is the biggest problem we face as a society.
    I would call for dismissal of this Magistrate immediately, from having any control over these sorts of cases ever again.

  7. Ann Geldart

    O this is so hard to read . What is these cruel killer s should be put down them down I love all animals big and small and i have 2 lovely dogs who I will stand by them they are my family .it is so hard when i lose them as they get old

  8. Jane O'Brien

    I am completly horrified by all these 3 cases. I always get nervous reading this articles as I am always praying for a happy ending to these very sad stories.
    It is absolutely disgusting that these people get away with this. How can you possibly allow the suffering and just ignore it? It astounds me the cruelty these people inflict on voiceless, defenceless animals who have probably given nothing but unconditional love. Do you think you could put your grandma on the lawn with arthritis and just leave her there in the elements?

    The penalities must be made must harsher and fit the crime because they are very serious crimes. Using the excuse that you can’t afford it is not acceptable. These people should never ever have an animal again and should go to jail. The legal system needs to catch up and fast!

  9. Sonia Ackhurst

    Unbelievable that these sub-humans can do this to defenseless animals. These people need harsher treatment – I feel I wish I could whip them however, knowing that this is wrong, I believe higher fines and gaol sentences should be a priority as well as the people being identified to the public.

  10. Heather Wavish

    Humans. Some are the demise of the World.
    What’s waiting for them and their cruel hearts will serve their memories well.
    Feel the burn.

  11. Bob

    So sad. These owners are irresponsible, something im not to my dog coco

  12. Susan Salotti Salotti

    I’m so upset and feel these human monsters should be given jail sentences and suffer We need to do more. It’s so sad I cry for those helpless animals

  13. Michael Millard

    Why does the RSPCA have to pay for the prosecution of these people? Isn’t it possible for the RSPCA to hand a brief of evidence over to the DPP who have the expertise in getting convictions and maximising sentences? The RSPCA has limited funds all of which should be used for the welfare, veterinary, food and accommodation, for injured animals.

  14. Ros

    I have wept so many tears today as I have just had to have my cat euthanized after being hit by a car with no hope of recovery. Seeing Duct Tape & Maddy being ill treated as they have makes me so angry. What is wrong with these people? If licenses were required to own a pet I am sure there wouldn’t be so much cruelty in the world also jail terms should be insisted upon regardless of the owners circumstances, there is absolutely no excuse.

  15. Linda

    Please increase the penalties and jail people for these crimes. Too many times they are getting a fine and let off convictions – our society needs to demand that people are convicted and deterred from owning pets if they can’t afford to take them to the vet.

  16. Carmel

    I have no compassion at all for these perpetrators. I think that every single thing that they own should be seized and used to help animals and they should be put into prison and if they have children, those children should be placed into a caring home where they might be taught empathy, civility and common sense. The people who do this sort of thing are scum, total scum and have no place in this universe at all! Yeah, I know. for those who think that animals are non thinking, feeling beings. Think again.

  17. Marlene George

    I cant even talk about this horrible cruely at the moment. It breaks my heart to read about it and i am totaly ashamed to hear how bad South Australia is so bad.

  18. Lidia

    Omg this is just devastating how can people be so cruel and the poor beagle in that freezing cold or the sweet kitten that could have been saved why on earth is there no justice it makes me sick !!! We need to make the penalties much tougher otherwise they will continue to do it

  19. Kyle Tunnicliff

    One of the great difficulties in effective sentencing for these abusers, is that a judge can only deliver a sentence which they can justify legally. The judges formal duty is to correctly interpret the constitution and how the laws which stem from it apply directly to the case at hand. Because of the limited scope that all formative constitutions unavoidably suffer from, law making is an endless process of measuring the effectiveness of existing laws and penalties, then adapting them as a society moves forward. Judges must rule in complete accordance with the law, and more often than not that means they are unable to punish criminals to the extent which the public or the victims could ever be satisfied. It happens in cases involving humans to an embarrassing degree, in fact I’m certain that in everyone’s lifetime they have each been aware of a sentence which was far too meagre. During primary school we read articles on two men who abducted a teenage girl, tied her to a tree then raped and butchered her. Their jail time was measured in months.
    To properly combat our hilariously inadequate sentencing trend, we need to make changes to the laws which enable judges to properly and meaningfully sentence criminals. Without entering into deep politics our best point of contact is our local member, who for many of us would be Amanda Rishworth.
    While many judges could be called pathetic and morally inept, many simply are not allowed to punish any more harshly than they do. They can’t turn the volume up to eleven if the law says the knob can only be turned to ten. Otherwise we’d had a plague of fast and loose judges taking all kinds of liberties with the law, and a law which is different depending on who holds the hammer, is not one which responsibly protects anyone at all.

    Please get in touch with you local member, they are the best ones to start a push for tougher sentencing laws.

  20. Carrol Bates

    Punishment they “give” people for animal cruelty it is not, is not enough, it is just not enough. Those poor, poor, animals. I am shaking in my tears, it makes me sick and as broken my heart yet again. I can understand why people get so upset that they feel like getting revenge on the people/person that do devastatingly cruel things to animals that do not deserve that treatment, animals, they can show such loyalty, love, devotion and protection to a human bean. Its the same as what some people do to defenceless children, people that illtreat animals should get the same punishment. It is still a life that should have been respected and cared for and they deserve that. I am sorry if I have gone on to much, but it does really hurt me.

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