R v Todd Nicol [2016] NZDC 3937

Published 31 July 2016

Sentencing — Cruelty and ill-treatment of a dog — Animal Welfare Act 1999, ss 29(a) and 173 — Costs. The defendant was convicted and ordered to pay a fine of $1875 to the SPCA on a charge of ill-treating a dog, found to be in the low to moderate range of capability. The defendant’s 13 year old huntaway dog was found in bad shape: unable to stand; unresponsive; and the victim of a severe maggot infestation. He was subsequently euthanized. The defendant was a farmer of 30 years experience and had noticed eggs two days before the arrival of the SPCA inspector and had attempted to treat the fly strike. It was accepted by the SPCA vet that the wound and infestation could have occurred within one to two days. No evidence was given that the harm caused was intentional or callous rather it was found the defendant’s “putting his head in the sand” resulted in the care of the dog plainly falling below the standard required causing it to suffer for a very short period of time unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress. The Judge was satisfied that the purposes of sentencing, holding the defendant to account for the harm that he has caused and to denounce and deter his offending and anyone else who might act in this way could be met by a fine. The defendant provided undertakings in respect to the care of his other dogs. Courts costs were imposed, a contribution to solicitors costs and the whole of the fine ordered to be paid to the SPCA.