On 12 September 2016 Griffith resident, Stephen Braddon was found guilty of abandoning an animal and failing to seek vet treatment for a burned cat owned by his partner.
More than twelve months earlier, RSPCA ACT Inspectors asked the public for help on this horrific case involving a severely burned cat that was dumped at the Weston shelter after hours. CCTV footage showed a female and male carrying the crate and driving away in a sedan. A public plea was made to help identify the people involved.
The cat initially escaped on 20 August 2015 from the unsecured milk crate it was left in outside of the Shelter doors. However, it was recaptured by RSPCA staff the following afternoon. Upon examination, the attending RSPCA ACT veterinarian determined that the injury was clearly not new.
The examination of the cat, later named Elsa by the RSPCA staff, revealed that the wounds on the cat were quite extensive and visible all down the left side of her body, on her back and also on her right side.
The vet statements explained that these types of wounds were commonly seen in thermal injuries where the tissue suffers damage to the extent that it dies. The lack of singeing and charring makes fire burns less likely. It was also unlikely that electrical or chemical burns were involved. The veterinarian suspicions were that the wounds were from a hot liquid or from another heated source.
Senior Inspector Catherine Croatto commented on the injuries, “Elsa was clearly in a lot of pain when she arrived at the Shelter, but she slowly began to trust us despite this. I do despair when I see such sad cases, as does the Public.”
On 24 August 2015, Stephen Brandon of Griffith contacted the RSPCA ACT Inspectorate where he identified himself and Ashley Dring as being the people depicted in the CCTV footage. Mr. Brandon first said that he had found the cat some 24 hours prior to it being left at the Shelter. However, when Inspectors attended their home address the following day, Mr. Brandon admitted that the cat belonged to his partner.
Ms. Dring stated that she was the owner of the cat, but did not know how the cat received the injuries. She told the Inspectors that she had first noticed them, “About a week ago before we dropped her off. I wanted to make sure she was alright, when I saw her it was horrible.” The defendant admitted to the Inspectors that she had not sought any vet treatment for the cat after noticing it was injured.
When the defendant was asked as to why the cat was left at the RSPCA ACT Shelter after hours and not when it was open, she told the Inspectors, “Cause Stephen (the defendant) just wanted to get rid of her.”
Stephen Braddon was found guilty of abandoning an animal and failing to seek vet treatment. He was sentenced to a one-month suspended jail term upon entering a 12-month Good Behaviour Order and also received a 10-year Animal Ownership Ban.
Co-defendant Ashley Dring failed to attend court for the hearing. A warrant has been issued for her arrest. Anyone who may have information about Ms. Dring’s whereabouts should contact ACT Policing at 000 and not approach her.
RSPCA ACT Chief Executive Tammy Ven Dange wanted to thank the public for their help, “We often say that it takes a community to prevent cruelty to animals. This is a good example. Had it not been for everyone sharing this story, our Inspectors would have had a much tougher job in identifying the individuals involved and providing a little bit of justice for Elsa’s sake.”
Elsa was successfully rehomed last year.