A Waikato woman was sentenced today after her dog was found extremely thin, with pressure sores and unable to stand without pain.
Nadine Pereteaho Tawha was convicted in the Hamilton District Court of failing to ensure that the physical, health and behavioural needs of her dog were met. She was sentenced to 100 hours’ community work, ordered to pay reparations of $767.90 and disqualified from owning animals for three years.
The case began on 6 February 2017 when an SPCA Inspector responded to reports of an extremely thin dog at a property in Hamilton. After concerns the property could be dangerous, Police help was sought to accompany the SPCA Inspector and Animal Control so they could inspect the dog.
Upon arrival, the defendant denied owning a dog and refused to let them through a padlocked gate into the backyard. After Police managed to get the defendant to open the gate, they found a female Rottweiler cross Huntaway dog named Tihei.
Tihei was chained to a kennel in a backyard surrounded by debris and faeces. She had no access to water and was excruciatingly thin. Her skeletal frame highlighted her protruding ribs and there were several open wounds on her rump area.
When the SPCA Inspector said she would be taking possession of Tihei, the defendant exclaimed “just take the [expletive] dog, I don’t want it anyway”. She declined to be formally interviewed about the case.
The SPCA Inspector took Tihei for immediate Veterinary attention, where she had to be sedated due to aggressive behaviour. The examination revealed that she had extreme muscle wastage and her nails were so long that it would have been painful even to stand. As a result of having to live on hard ground, Tihei had open, infected pressure sores on both hips and calluses on both elbows. Her coat was greasy and lacked shine, a further indication of poor diet.
The Veterinarian concluded that Tihei was emaciated, most likely due to starvation or malnutrition over a period of weeks to months. Sadly, due to her temperament, it was recommended that Tihei be euthanised on humane grounds.
“Unfortunately, there are cases where unsocialised, chained and neglected animals develop aggressive behaviours. The SPCA team does the best they can to rehabilitate every animal. Sadly, sometimes this is not possible,” says Andrea Midgen, SPCA CEO.
“The suffering Tihei would have gone through is unacceptable. Owning an animal is a privilege, and this should never be forgotten. If the defendant could not provide Tihei with the care she needed and deserved, she should have tried to find her a new home, or have asked her local SPCA for help or advice. There were several steps she could have taken. Just leaving Tihei in such a despairing way is unfathomable.”
“Our pets are completely dependent on their owners for food, shelter, companionship, and treatment if they get injured or fall ill. If you own an animal, it is your responsibility to provide these fundamental things.”
SPCA Inspector Melissa will never forget the day she first met Sully.
He was locked in a dark room, cowering in the corner. Sully’s spirit was broken. He was frightened and anxious.
As an SPCA Inspector, Melissa has legal powers to seize animals like Sully from their owners. She brought him to safety so our team could look after him. As an animal lover, we know you want to see a New Zealand where all animals are respected and cared for. The thought of animals like Sully suffering is heart-breaking. This SPCA Annual Appeal Week, please donate today to rescue animals like Sully and give them the life they deserve.
Sully’s previous owner was someone known to the SPCA. Part of an SPCA Inspector’s responsibility is following up on animal welfare complaints, and scheduling rechecks to ensure that owners are complying with the law. That ongoing work is how Inspector Melissa found Sully. It’s a day she’ll always remember:
Sully's coat was overgrown and painfully matted. But most upsetting was his mental state. It's terrifying to see an animal so emotionallu traumatised so they don't know who to trust. Our team gave Sully medicine, introduced him to the outside world and patiently helped im build confidence. It took six months before Sully was ready to be adopted. Sully it just one of the many animals who rely on you for hope and happiness. Your support gives them a second chance at life.
“I’ll never forget walking into that room and seeing him hiding, wide-eyed in the dark corner.”
“The strangest part though was when I walked him out to my van. He didn’t make a single sound – not a whimper, or a bark.”
Many people don’t realise that some of our hardest cases are where we deal with animals who are psychologically hurting. Our vets can heal a physical wound with surgery and medicine. It’s much harder to heal a broken heart. There was a team of people who were dedicated to Sully’s recovery. Inspector Melissa rescued him, our vets gave him medicine, our canine team walked and trained him, his foster family patiently helped Sully build confidence – and even his canine foster brother taught Sully how to play tug with a rope toy.
The SPCA is full of people who give everything to save and change lives. But honestly, the biggest hero is you, because you make all this possible. Without your generosity, we couldn’t rescue animals like Sully. Thousands of animals would suffer, and live a life full of fear.
As I’m sure you can imagine, it costs a lot of money to treat and care for all the animals that need the SPCA’s help. Animals like Sully can’t heal without your support. Last week, Inspector Melissa visited Sully at his new home. It was the first time she had seen him since he was adopted.
“Sully is almost unrecognisable from the day I first met him. I can’t get over how happy he is now.”
“With unconditional love from his new family, Sully has found joy in being a normal dog. He loves walks along the beach, playing in the backyard and snuggling on his special spot on the couch.”
SPCA Inspectors have a varied, tough job. They rescue animals from awful cases of abuse and neglect, and will prosecute offenders through the courts. They also educate their community on caring for their animals to break the cycle of animal cruelty.
“It can be a really hard job. But seeing Sully reminds me why I do what I do.”
“I’ve pinned photos of him above my desk because animals like Sully make every hard day worth it.”
I have so much respect and admiration for Melissa, and all our other SPCA Inspectors who do impossibly tough jobs. They are all heroes. But you can be a hero too. When you give a donation to the SPCA, you give rescue, you give love, and most importantly – you give hope. And we need you now more than ever.
Please donate today so we can keep our Inspectors on the road 365 days a year, rescuing animals who are crying out for help.
Tomorrow, like every other day, Inspector Melissa will travel to rescue an animal in need. And in cases of deliberate abuse and neglect, Melissa will prosecute those people responsible. Just a few dollars from you makes such a difference. We can’t do it without you.