Auckland SPCA v MacPherson [2019] NZDC 4102

Published 19 July 2019

Sentencing — ill-treatment of animal resulting in serious injury or impairment — failure to ensure treatment to alleviate unreasonable and unnecessary pain — abuse of dog — disqualification — Animal Welfare Act 1999 ss 28, 169 & 172 — Balfour v R [2013] NZCA 429 — Erickson v Ministry for Primary Industries [2017] NZCA 271 — Police v Witehira [2017] NZDC 16476 — SPCA v Tuari [2017] DCR 225 — Williams DC Manukau CRI-2008-092-19268, 23 April 2009 — Power v SPCA Auckland [2016] NZHC 888. The defendant appeared for sentencing after pleading guilty to one charge of ill-treatment an animal resulting in the animal being seriously injured and impaired and one of failing to ensure an animal received treatment to alleviate any unreasonable and unnecessary pain and distress it was suffering. The defendant had violently beaten his dog after it ran away and chased some sheep. The beating resulted in haemorrhaging and a fractured femure that would have caused the dog severe pain. The defendant refused to take the dog to receive veterinary treatment. When SPCA inspectors visited the defendant he lied and told them he had put the dog down. They returned and he eventually came clean that the dog was in his car and surrendered it to the inspectors. Upon receiving treatment the dog had to be put down. After comparing the offending the case law, the Judge adopted a starting point of 16 months' imprisonment for the lead charge of ill-treatment of an animal with an uplift of two months for failing to ensure treatment. The defendant was entitled to a 25 per cent discount for his early guilty plea, taking the sentence down to 13 and a half months. The Judge also ordered that the defendant was disqualified from owning animals for 6 years and that any other animals owned by the defendant were to be forfeited to the Crown (although it appeared the defendant did not own any other animals). In order to reflect these orders the sentence was adjusted to 12 months. The defendant had applied for an adjournment to consider home detention, but this was declined as the defendant had drawn out proceedings by failing to cooperate with Probation and not showing up to previous hearings. The final sentence was 12 months' imprisonment with leave to apply for home detention. Judgment Date: 5 March 2019.