An Oaks Estate man whose dogs showed signs of chronic starvation and wounds consistent with dogfighting has been sentenced in the ACT Magistrates Court to two 12-month good behaviour orders including nine months of supervision.
Darren Hawkes pleaded guilty to failing to provide appropriate and adequate food and water to six dogs in his care and has also been disqualified from keeping any animal for two years and ordered to pay $100 in court costs.
RSPCA ACT Inspectors visited Mr Hawkes’ home in 2016 after receiving a complaint regarding the condition of the animals living there.
When they arrived, the Inspectors saw multiple dogs living there and all appeared malnourished and had varying degrees of wounds on their bodies.
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“Due to their condition, the decision to seize the dogs was made with all six receiving a medical examination by a veterinarian,” RSPCA ACT Chief Executive Officer Tammy Ven Dange said.
“The medical findings found that all of the dogs were either emaciated or significantly underweight with musculoskeletal movement showing signs of muscle wastage.
“All dogs presented with fleas, with some having puncture wounds consistent with dogfighting.
“Blood work demonstrated indicators of liver stress and anaemia consistent with chronic starvation.”
Ms Ven Dange said that further medical examination showed that at least two of the dogs had their growth stunted, probably due to malnutrition.
A stool sample taken from one of the dogs showed blue fibre, which led the veterinary team to believe that the dog had ingested material in response to its severe hunger.
One of the dogs looked to be around four months old but, upon further examination of his teeth, the RSPCA ACT Veterinarian concluded that he was at least six months of age.
“Starvation or heavy parasite infestation may have stunted his growth, which would explain why he appeared significantly smaller than expected,” Ms Ven Dange said.
“While in care for just three weeks he almost doubled his presenting body weight, reinforcing the RSPCA ACT Veterinarian’s conclusion that there was no medical reason the dog would not thrive with basic care, diet and parasite control.”
Ms Ven Dange said it is always quite confronting to see the animals that the Inspectors bring into the Shelter but “the size of the poor pup, in particular, was deplorable”.
“It’s probably amazing that we even found him alive,” she said.
“Fortunately, we have been able to rehome all of these dogs to better families, and I only hope that a two-year animal ban is enough to ensure that this owner has learned the lesson and does not hurt any other animal in his care in the future.”