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Levin man moved out of his flat and left a puppy to starve

Segment 011 of Council photo Hale 1 1 v2Tuesday, 6 October, 2015

When Brendan Hale moved out of his flat and locked the door he left a puppy alone inside to die.

Hale, 32, unemployed, pleaded guilty in the Levin District Court to a charge of reckless ill-treatment of an animal with the result that the pain or distress caused to the animal was so great it was necessary to destroy it in order to end its suffering. The offense carries a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment and/or a $75,000 fine.

He was sentenced to 175 hours of community work, 3 months community detention, disqualified from owning animals for 5 years (excluding current dog), and ordered to pay a $350 contribution to legal costs.

The case came to the attention of authorities when a Housing New Zealand contractor visited Hale’s former flat in Kinross Street, Levin, on 18 August 2014 to change the locks and clean the house.

Once inside, the contractor found what he thought was a dead, tan coloured, male, pit-bull type puppy lying on some bedding in the laundry on a floor covered in faeces. He telephoned Housing New Zealand for assistance.

A Housing New Zealand Officer arrived and, although the puppy was moribund and non-responsive, he realised it was still alive and telephoned the police and animal control.

Animal Control Officers seized the puppy and transported it directly to a veterinary clinic for urgent examination. This revealed the puppy was emaciated with a body weight of 1.87kg – a normal weight would be between 3kg and 4kg. It was severely dehydrated and anaemic, had a subnormal body temperature, and respiratory rate of 6 breaths per minute (a normal rate would be between 10 and 30). The puppy had no palpable pulse and a weak heartbeat that was barely audible with a stethoscope. The puppy also had a heavy flea burden.

The veterinarian concluded that the puppy had been subjected to severe malnutrition and neglect. She estimated that it would have taken one to two weeks for the puppy to deteriorate into this condition, during which time it would have suffered significant pain and distress.

The puppy had to be euthanised in order to end its suffering.

When interviewed, the defendant confirmed he was the owner of the puppy and the only person who had keys to the property. He said he moved out of the property on the weekend of 9 and 10 August. He said an acquaintance had paid him $40 for the puppy and that he had left it in the house for his acquaintance to pick it up. He didn’t go back to the property to check on the puppy or telephone his acquaintance to follow up.

“Cases involving the neglect and starvation of animals are far too common in our country and I call upon members of the public to remain vigilant and report any instances of such abuse to the SPCA immediately,” says Ric Odom, CEO of SPCA New Zealand.