Local Kambah resident, Stephanie Clarke, 22, has been found guilty in two cases of animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 1992 for failing to provide appropriate and adequate food, exercise, water, shelter as well as failure to take reasonable steps to alleviate pain for some dogs in her care.
On Tuesday, December 9, 2014, Stephanie purchased a Pitbull cross named Max from a local Canberra residence after it was sold over ‘Gumtree’ due to his original owners relocating to NSW. From 9 until 22 December the previous owners maintained contact with Stephanie who stated that everything was fine with Max.
Around 8 January 2015 Stephanie replied to an advert on ‘Gumtree’ from a lady advertising a good home from unwanted dogs. On Sunday 11 January 2015, Max was collected from Stephanie’s residence and was observed to be skinny and have fresh cuts over his face, neck and also had a swollen eye. Max was taken to a Bungendore Veterinary Clinic where an examination found him to be malnourished as his coat was dry and hips, spine and ribs were clearly visible. The wound and cuts on Max’s face and neck were consistent with puncture wounds from another dog or barbed fence.
Max’s previous owners were contacted by Bungendore Veterinary Clinic as his microchipped was showing them has his owners. Given Max’s poor state, the original owners contacted RSPCA ACT Inspectors to investigate.
On Thursday 29 January 2015 RSPCA ACT Inspectors received a complaint about three dogs chained in the backyard of a Southside residence without water. When Inspectors arrived at the scene they found Chuey; a Siberian Husky chained near a clothesline with the chain entangled around a pole, Aussie, a Staffordshire Terrier cross chained near a kennel at the side of the house and Bonnie, a Bull Terrier cross chained without access to a kennel.
A puppy named Diesel was also sighted inside the house which was secure. Diesel was frantically trying to escape the house and vomited on two occasions. RSPCA ACT Inspectors left a notice for the residents requesting contact to be made with them.
Inspectors returned the next day to find that no one had tended to the animals for a 24 hour period, so a decision was made to seize the four dogs. Three dogs were removed from their chains and Inspectors entered the secure residence to remove Diesel. Inside the residence, it was found that the Diesel had been provided with no food and limited water. There were faeces located throughout the house. The animals were then transported to RSPCA ACT in Weston.
A veterinary check found that all four animals were found to be in a poor state. Cheuy was found to have a coat with a grossly evident flea infestation and was suffering from pruritus. Aussie had yellow purulent discharge from both eyes, visible conjunctivitis as well as fleas and eosinophilia. Bonnie had a small healing wound on its shoulder which was lucky it had not been infested by fleas given the state of the other dogs. Diesel was also in a poor state covered in flea dirt with grossly evident flea infestation. A blood test showed abnormalities consistent with chronic flea parasitism which would cause skin irritation that would distress Diesel.
RSPCA ACT CEO Tammy Ven Dange applauded the work of Inspectors, “It took significant investigative skills for our inspectors to link these two cases to the same person. Bringing the charges together allowed us to demonstrate to the magistrate that there was an even greater need for a significant sentence.”
Stephanie Clarke was found guilty and sentenced to 12 months good behaviour bond, 120 hours of community service and was banned from owning, acquiring, purchasing or possessing any animal for three years.
RSPCA ACT Chief Inspector Catherine Croatto stated, “Though it is good that we were able to secure another animal ban, we really need the public to assist us with monitoring these bans. Obviously, RSPCA Inspectors perform spot checks on these individuals as often as they can.”
Ms Ven Dange was also happy RSPCA ACT was able to remove the dogs before their health was compromised further, “Based on the number of dogs involved in two different cases, it is clear that this person is not and will not be a responsible pet owner anytime soon. I only wish that she was banned from owning animals for a lot longer. Fortunately, we have been able to give the five dogs a second chance by rehoming them already.”