A 25-year-old University of New South Wales graduate was indicted on 19 February 2020 at Downing Center Local Court for two animal cruelty offenses after his one-year-old Maremma Sheepdog, Milk, was left beyond words starvation on his Zetland unit gallery.
For the charge of submitting a demonstration of exasperated cruelty, the man was given a characteristic sentence of 16 months’ prison, with a non-parole time of eight months.
For the charge of neglecting to give veterinary treatment for emaciation, he was sentenced to a further four months’ jail time, to be served simultaneously. He was also restricted from buying, getting or taking care or custody of any animal for a long time.
NSW Local Court Chief Magistrate, Judge Henson, established that the offenses were at the highest point of the range as far as of objective seriousness among acts of animal cruelty and that the defendant ethical culpability in submitting the offenses was towards the most significant level, expressing the defendant’s conduct was “egregious” and “wicked”.
“The very fact of the existence of the RSPCA reflects, and significantly so, the overwhelming view of our community that cruelty is unacceptable.”
On Thursday 20 June 2019, an RSPCA monitor went to a Zetland unit in response to a cruelty complaint relating to an animal located on the unit’s balcony. There the examiner found the perished body of a seriously thin pooch over a cardboard box. There was no source of food or water on the balcony and the area was covered in feces and dog hair.
Milk’s body was given up to the RSPCA and taken to the RSPCA Sydney Veterinary Hospital for a veterinary evaluation. An after death assessment uncovered that the dog was in a seriously gaunt body condition, with no fat present and extreme muscle decay of the whole body.
There were various patterns of slimy parasites on her body. She had congested nails, excrement on the hide around her rear-end, and blood release around her vulva. Her body weighed 10.1 kilograms (around 33% of the base standard load for Maremma Sheepdogs of comparable age and sex).
The veterinary report found that emaciation was the reason for death for Milk. For the body to arrive at this express, the body separated all accessible fat and the vast majority of the muscle to use as food to keep on supporting life.
The muscle atrophy was so severe that there was barely any muscle palpable on the body, noting that the maggots were not present in areas that would have reduced any of the muscle or fat reserves observed post-mortem.
It is very likely severe dehydration also contributed to the dog’s death. Milk required veterinary consultation, examination and assessment for her very poor body condition for at least two months, and the defendant’s failure to provide this care ultimately resulted in her death.
“The defendant’s behavior is inexcusable. This dog starved to death, alone, on a cold balcony, surrounded by her own urine and feces.
She had nothing but a cardboard box. It was a cruel, needless death. Pet owners are responsible for the lives and welfare of their animals,” said RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector Scott Meyers. “This sentence reflects community expectations that serious animal cruelty offenders will be punished.”