12 September 2021

Court imposes a pet limit on woman who kept a menagerie in her one-bedroom unit

| Albert McKnight
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ACT Law Courts

A woman has avoided a jail sentence after being found to have failed to care for her dog properly. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A woman who kept a menagerie of animals in her one-bedroom unit wouldn’t take her injured dog to the vet even though it had several “puncture wounds” on its leg.

Court documents show RSPCA inspectors went to the woman’s Canberra home in January 2019 due to ongoing concerns for her animals.

She told them her female kelpie had received an injury to its front right leg a week earlier. She admitted she had not taken her dog to the vet to be treated but said she had tried to clean the wound with lukewarm water and sea salt herself.

Inspectors saw the dog’s leg appeared to have a “puncture wound” and swelling.

The woman told inspectors she had dogs, cats, kittens, lizards, fish and turtles, as well as uncaged birds and rabbits in her one-bedroom unit.

The RSPCA seized the kelpie and took her to a vet, who found she had “weight-bearing lameness” on her right leg with “a mild-moderate amount of pain”.

READ ALSO Animal cruelty complaints increase in the ACT, dozens of animals seized by RSPCA

The vet said the leg also had “several cuts and puncture wounds with dried blood”.

On Wednesday (8 September), Magistrate Glenn Theakston told the ACT Magistrates Court the woman had a mental illness that made her predisposed to finding comfort in the company of animals.

But the more animals she had, the more difficult it was to cope, which had a “runaway effect”, he said.

The woman is currently in hospital due to her conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, an intellectual disability and animal hoarding disorder.

Appearing in court over audio-visual link, she pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to provide her dog with appropriate treatment.

READ ALSO Man allegedly used blowtorch on dog when it tried to defend owner

Magistrate Theakston found the offence proven, but did not record a conviction and dismissed numerous other charges.

He said she had been “well and truly” affected by her mental health conditions and should not be made an example of to the community.

However, he said there was a need to protect animals in the future and establish some boundaries for her.

She was sentenced to a six-month good behaviour order and told she could not keep more than three animals and only one per species at any time over the next five years unless she was given written approval to do so by the RSPCA.

“The RSPCA ACT welcomes the decision of the court in this matter and encourages anyone that requires assistance with their animals to contact the RSPCA ACT to avoid placing their animals at risk,” the RSPCA said after the sentencing.

“We believe this is in the best interest of animal welfare.”

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So many mental health problems that affect animals. It was noted that she has diminished mental health and an intellectual disability and I wonder if she is totally alone in this world. Did anyone have ongoing contact with this woman?

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