Hot weather heartbreak for couple charged over death of rescue dog
IT'S every pet owner's worse nightmare.
You try to do the right thing by restraining your dogs, who have a tendency to wander out of their yard, while you go away for a weekend.
You leave them plenty of food and water and shelter, but you fail to do one thing - check they can reach all three - which results in one of your beloved furry friends dying and another causing himself injuries due to distress.
This is what happened to one Gracemere family who lost one of their dogs, who they had rescued, due to her inability to access the water bowl for a weekend in February 2017 when the temperatures were in the mid to high 30s.
Their story is a timely reminder of what checks all pet owners need to make on their non-human family members.
Jessica Nicole Boggs, 25, and Peter Michael Ball, 29, both pleaded guilty in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court on September 26 to two counts of breaching their duty of care for an animal.
Tears streamed from their eyes as the facts of what happened in February were told to the court.
RSPCA's lawyer Grant Cagney said RSPCA were contacted by members of the public in relation to the dogs.
He said when they arrived to investigate the complaint, they found a female mastiff cross, of brindle colour, deceased.
"(She) was tied up in a way which the dog could only access the kennel but not access the water," Mr Cagney said.
He said the second dog, Tank, a male mastiff cross, was also chained and had become tangled. Tank was in good health at that time.
Mr Cagney said the couple had shown remorse and had arranged for the deceased dog to be cremated.
The court heard the couple had tethered their dogs to stop them from roaming from the property but failed to check they could access the water bowl, which had been relocated recently and they had not checked all dogs could access it in the new location.
The RSPCA inspector had issued a compliance notice to the couple after the February incident and when checks were made in March, the couple had complied.
The couple's defence lawyer Stephanie Nicholas said Bitchy, the deceased dog, normally called Bee by family members, had been rescued by them about 10 years ago.
She said Tank, also a rescue dog, had been in the family three years and a third dog, Jockey, had been in the family 11 years.
Mrs Nicholas said the couple had spent $10,000 on surgery for Tank, who had injured himself when he got the chain tangled up, plus fixing the fence.
"They've cooperated fully," she said.
Mrs Nicholas said both were currently unemployed.
Magistrate Jeff Clark commended the couple for pleaded guilty to the offences in the first instance, pointing out that it was unusual in such cases.
"I appreciate you did not intend to cause any harm to your animals," he said.
Mr Clark also mentioned that full compliance with the RSPCA was another uncommon feature in this case.
He ordered the couple be fined $500 each with 50% to go to the RSPCA; court costs of $96.16 each and $550 each for professional costs. Mr Clark also ordered no convictions be recorded for either as they had no previous criminal record.
"Your case is an unusual one. Ordinarily the fine would be significantly higher than that," he noted.
Keeping pets cool on hot days
- All pets must be kept in cool, shady areas. It is ideal to bring pets indoors on hot days.
- Small pets, such as rabbits, guinea pigs and birds, are particularly susceptible to heat. Bring these animals indoors during hot weather. They will benefit from the cool tiles. If this is not possible, drape their cage with wet towels and provide a sturdy icepack or frozen water bottle for the animal to lean against so it can to regulate its own body temperature. Make sure the animals' enclosures are out of direct sunlight and protected from the sun as the shade moves throughout the day.
- Provide plenty of fresh, cool water in large water containers. Be sure to provide numerous sources of water in case one is spilt. Ensure the containers are in the shade and add some ice to the water to keep it cool.
- Place a clam shell pool in the shade and fill it with water so your dog can wade in the water to keep cool.
- Walk your dog in the coolness of the early morning or evening, especially on very hot days. You may even take your pet to the local beach, creek or river to let it have a paddle to cool down.
- If your pet seems to be in discomfort, try wetting its feet and misting water onto its face. Its important not to saturate a bird's feathers as this can cause them to go into shock.
- Make sure your horses and livestock have access to shade. Provide extra water for your horses and livestock.
- NEVER leave your pet in the car in warm weather. It takes only minutes for an animal to suffer an agonising death if left in a hot car. If you see an animal locked in a hot car, immediately phone police on 000.
- Leave small bowls of water in your garden so wildlife can keep cool.