Port Pirie man convicted after deliberately killing Siberian Husky dog

A 48-year-old Port Pirie man who admitted he deliberately killed his former housemate’s Siberian Husky dog in a dispute about money was convicted in the Adelaide Magistrates Court last Friday on a charge of ill-treatment an animal causing death.

An RSPCA SA inspector attended at a Solomontown address on 26 September 2022 after receiving a report from SA Police that they had found a deceased dog inside a 240 litre wheelie bin filled with water. The dog was removed from the bin and transported to a forensic laboratory for necropsy and the pathology report indicated the dog had suffered significant blunt force trauma prior to her death.

Evidence collected at the scene included a round steel bar and two cast iron weights found at the bottom of the bin. The dog’s studded collar was located hanging on a toilet door at the defendant’s house. The defendant acknowledged that he had written on the collar “Every dog has there (sic) day”.

The dog was identified as a three-year-old female Siberian Husky named Tessa. The dog’s owner advised the RSPCA SA inspector that Tessa had been stolen from his property and that the defendant had previously threatened to harm the dog.

In a recorded interview, the defendant admitted removing the dog from his former housemate’s Port Pirie house, and taking the dog to his house where he kept it locked in a bathroom for an undisclosed number of days. He then attempted to strangle the dog using a cord. When the dog yelped, he ceased. He then filled the bin with water, placed the dog into the bin and held her underwater until she drowned. The defendant stated that his killing of the dog was an act of retaliation because the dog’s owner was “ripping him off left, right and centre”.

Given the gravity of the offence, RSPCA SA’s legal counsel sought an immediate jail term.

In the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Friday, Magistrate Roderick Jensen said it was a “horrible and cruel death for the dog” and that “holding it under water must have been a terrible experience for the creature”.

“A measure of how we exist as a society is how we treat animals,” His Honour said, adding that the defendant had “failed in the worst possible way”.

In sentencing, His Honour took into account the defendant’s psychological issues. The court heard the defendant was diagnosed with PTSD, an adjustment disorder, borderline personality disorder and possibly schizophrenia.

The defendant was given an eight-month suspended sentence, reduced by 30% to five months and 18 days for his guilty plea before a trial, on an 18-month good behaviour bond. Conditions of the bond are that the defendant is to be supervised by community corrections and is required to attend any psychological treatment they so order.

The defendant is prohibited from owning or having custody of any animals, until further order.

Under SA’s Animal Welfare Act, the maximum penalty for animal cruelty is $20,000 or two years’ imprisonment. For an aggravated cruelty offence, the maximum penalty is $50,000 or four years’ imprisonment.

RSPCA South Australia is the state’s only animal welfare charity with inspectors empowered to prosecute animal cruelty under SA’s Animal Welfare Act.

Members of the public who witness animal cruelty or neglect are urged to immediately call RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty report hotline on 1300 477 722.

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