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Farmer ignored maggot-infested dog until it collapsed

Thursday, 10 March, 2016

Farmer ignored maggot-infested dog until it collapsedA Manawatu farmer has been convicted in the Palmerston North District Court for neglecting to treat a flystruck dog to the point that it had to be euthanised.

Todd Nichol, 51, was convicted of ill-treating an animal with the result that the pain or distress caused to the animal was so great it was necessary to destroy it in order to end its suffering. He was fined $1,875.00, and ordered to pay $300.00 legal fees, $130.00 court costs, and $162.50 vet costs.

The case began when an SPCA Inspector, acting on information received, visited the defendant’s farm at Pohangina, Manawatu, on 2 April 2015 to inspect a dog.

The dog, an old, male, black and tan, huntaway was lying in the grass tethered to a kennel. He was unresponsive to voice and touch, and there was a strong odour of decaying flesh coming from him. The Inspector found that the dog was suffering from a severe maggot infestation from the base of his tail to his shoulder blades, and the skin along his back was oozing a bloody discharge.

The Inspector seized the dog and took him for urgent veterinary attention. This revealed that the dog’s entire back was flyblown, from the base of his tail to his shoulder blades, with a massive maggot burden and associated moist, raw, purulent skin inflammation. His coat was saturated with bloody discharge from the inflamed skin and his collapsed state indicated septic shock.

The veterinarian also found muscle wastage over both hind limbs. The dog’s toe joints were thickened and enlarged in both hind feet, indicating the presence of degenerative joint disease. There was also a deep, mildly necrotic wound at the base of the dog’s tail.

The veterinarian concluded that the dog had been infested by the maggots for at least 1 or 2 days. In that time his owner should have noticed his flystruck condition and sought treatment before the dog became unable to stand.

Euthanasia was recommended due to the severe degree of suffering, and the dog was euthanised.

The defendant, a farmer with more than 30 years of farming experience in the sheep and beef industry, said when interviewed that he had identified and treated many cases of flystrike. He said that two days prior to the SPCA’s involvement he had noticed some eggs on the dog’s rump and had used a disinfectant in an attempt to kill them, but he hadn’t checked to see if it had worked.

“This is a clear case of neglect of an old dog that could easily have been avoided, especially in light of the farmer’s lengthy experience with animals and flystrike,” says Ric Odom, CEO of SPCA New Zealand.

“The animals in your care are entirely dependent on you for their wellbeing – and that applies just as much to a working dog on a farm as it does to a suburban family pet. They cannot look after themselves so it is your responsibility to ensure all their needs are met for the whole of their lives, including food, veterinary treatment, shelter, and affection.

“If you fail in this duty of care it’s our job to seek justice on behalf of the animal you have neglected.”