On 11 November 2015 RSPCA ACT Inspectors arrived at a Deakin residence after complaint was called in regarding the welfare of a dog at the premises. It was raining heavily and a large Wolfhound cross dog was sighted lying on its side in the rear yard. He was lying in mud, clearly unwell, fully exposed to the elements with no shelter available.
When called the dog made an attempt to lift his head but was unable to do so. As it was obvious that the dog was in need of immediate veterinary care the decision was made to seize it. Another dog, a black Shepherd was also sighted in the yard.
As the rear garden was fully fenced and secure, Inspectors had to gain entry to the yard to be able to access the dog. The female that opened the door identified herself as an occupant of the premises. When asked whose dog it is she stated, “Mine”. She further stated, “He has been sick for about a month, he is also blind”. When asked by the Inspector whose responsibility it was to care for the dog she replied, “We all are”. The female stated that the dog had never been taken to a vet. When asked why not she stated, “I have told my husband to take him but he hasn’t”.
When approached, the dog attempted to stand however was unable to do so. His eyes were cloudy, he smelt extremely unpleasant and that his scrotum was swollen and infected. It was also noted that there was no shelter for the dog or the other dog that was sighted in the yard, a black Shepherd. The shelter that had been pointed out by the defendant’s wife consisted of a small lean to which housed other items and which would not afford adequate shelter for the two dogs.
Once taken to the RSPCA ACT Veterinary Clinic he was immediately seen by a Veterinarian. His poor condition was quickly confirmed with:
- Extremely underweight with a body score of 2 out of 9.
- Scrotum was painfully swollen and infected. It was ulcerated and fly-blown with the presence of maggots.
- His eyes had evidence of hyphaema (bleeding into the anterior chamber of the eye), amongst other issues which is clinically indicative of inflammation of the internal structures of the eye.
- Rectal examination showed black faeces suggestive of intestinal bleeding.
- Peripheral Hindlimb Oedema (fluid congestion of the limbs) that suggests a long period of time unable to move or walk.
- Fluid in the abdomen and enlarged lymph nodes in the abdomen and chest.
Unfortunately the dog had to be euthanised on humane grounds. A post-mortem examination was performed.
The post-mortem and laboratory reports concluded that the dog was suffering from Stage 5/5 (end stage) of generalised Lymphoma that had spread to the eye and scrotum. It is the likely this contributed to the poor body condition. Biochemistry results further shows multiple secondary organ involvement (liver and kidney) in this disease.
Veterinarian advice was that his condition was not something that would have happened overnight and the person in charge of the dog would have noticed his decline. Animals with generalised high grade lymphoma, when left untreated generally live for 4-6 weeks. Given that this dog’s clinical signs appeared end stage, it is estimated that this dog had been suffering for at least a month.
On the 15 February 2016 the defendant appeared before the Act Magistrates Court for another matter. The defendant’s legal representative, Mr De Bruin stated, “There’s an Irish Wolf. My client cared for both dogs. He suspected both may have been poisoned”. The defendant then stated, “Yes, I think so. It was a stroke”.
Today, Shane Van Duren pleaded guilty for the failure to alleviate pain by seeking vet treatment for this dog. He was convicted and received a 12-month good behaviour bond.
RSPCA ACT CEO Tammy Ven Dange reacted to the sentencing, “At what stage should a stray animal become the responsibility of the finder? The defendant provided no evidence for the length of time that he had that dog, and the law does not discriminate based on time. In this case, once the animal was behind a locked gate, no one else could possibly help him. Unfortunately, the sentencing reflects the story of a good Samaritan, not of a person who allowed an animal to suffer for a month with maggots eating away his scrotum.”
Senior Inspector Catherine Croatto who found the dog was disheartened by the sentence, “It is disgraceful to leave a dying animal to suffer. This poor dog was located lying in the mud and heavy rain; it was in such a poor state I had to carry it to the RSPCA vehicle.”