Oaks Estate man sentenced for starving six dogs

Glynis Quinlan 17 January 2018 28

When found in 2016, Ozzy’s growth appeared to have been stunted by starvation or parasite infestation. He has since put on weight and been rehomed. All photos supplied by RSCPA ACT.

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.

One of the dogs, Xander, found at the property.

“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.

A wound on Xander’s ear.

“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.

When found, Ozzy looked to be four months’ old but was actually six months’ old.

“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.

One of the other malnourished puppies found.

“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.”

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28 Responses to Oaks Estate man sentenced for starving six dogs
Chris Topher Chris Topher 4:37 pm 17 Jan 18

Only two years????? Piss-poor sentence. Bloody joke.

Veronika Sain Veronika Sain 5:01 pm 17 Jan 18

So basically all he got was a $100 fine.

Ruth Lee Martin Ruth Lee Martin 6:05 pm 17 Jan 18


Megan Baker-Goldsmith Megan Baker-Goldsmith 6:50 pm 17 Jan 18

A friend of mine has adopted one of the dogs in this story. I’m disappointed in the light punishment, but am so glad all of the dogs found happy new homes. I feel less guilty about feeding him chips under the table after seeing him so skinny!

Margaret Young Margaret Young 7:29 pm 17 Jan 18

Should be in jail.

Kylie Louise Bailey Kylie Louise Bailey 7:32 pm 17 Jan 18


Jenny Bibo Jenny Bibo 7:43 pm 17 Jan 18

This is that dog today - a gorgeous boy with a cheeky personality (but still scared of people). I would love to see life bans on owning pets for animal abusers.

Melinda Parrett Melinda Parrett 7:49 pm 17 Jan 18

Beyond belief.magistrates you are part of the problem.

Moira Begg Moira Begg 8:02 pm 17 Jan 18

The sentencing is a joke. Good behaviour bonds, small fines and banning ownership will stop nothing. There should be jail time, large fines and life time bans... Although, I wonder whether the bans are actually enforced? I doubt it...

Guy Speake Guy Speake 8:55 pm 17 Jan 18

2 years? That's all? Should be a lifetime ban. Also, we should lock him in a yard and starve him too. See how he likes it.

Ashlee W. Larkin Ashlee W. Larkin 10:04 pm 17 Jan 18

That punishment does not fit at all, it is far too lenient!

Robert Combe Robert Combe 10:09 pm 17 Jan 18

How about 5 years gaol and no pets ever

Victoria Clark-Matthews Victoria Clark-Matthews 10:56 pm 17 Jan 18

No pets ever and jail for 2 years - this is not justice nor a lesson for this cruel man!

Angella Storrier Angella Storrier 1:19 pm 18 Jan 18

Should have been banned for life! Anyone who treats dogs so despicably, will do the same again.

And why no jail sentence? I do not understand the sentences imposed in animal cruelty cases. 😢

Dory Johns Dory Johns 1:40 pm 18 Jan 18

Not an adequate sentence by any standard. We need these laws and their enforcement to be strengthened. We are all paying for the results of these crimes and I am sick of it. There is NO excuse.

Alex At Ainslie Alex At Ainslie 4:05 pm 18 Jan 18

2 years? Piss weak.

Rhonda Elizabeth Crooks Rhonda Elizabeth Crooks 6:45 pm 18 Jan 18

Dory I strongly agree

A_Cog A_Cog 11:51 pm 18 Jan 18

Another sign of the broken “Justice” system which is supposed to protect us. Abuse is wrong, whether human or not, physical or not. And what a ridiculous, dangerous message it sends to potential offenders. Of the seven factors ACT magistrates are supposed to consider in sentencing, this fails them all, but especially community expectation.

Spiral Spiral 7:29 am 19 Jan 18

Magistrates around Australia have bemoaned the imposition of mandatory sentencing, claiming it reduces their powers of discretion.

Well magistrates, wake up and listen to the community. It is decisions like this that scream to the community that you are out of touch. If you don’t want us to keep taking away your powers then use your powers appropriately.

Brett Everingham Brett Everingham 1:54 pm 20 Jan 18

In Western Australia a Couple were fined $40.000 each and ordered to Stay away from Animals for 10 years over the treatment and Death of a Horse.

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