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Gisborne man jailed after bashing his dog in the head with a hammer and leaving her to die

15/12/16

Gisborne man press release

A Gisborne man appeared in the Gisborne District Court yesterday accused of bashing his dog in the head three times with a club hammer and then leaving her to die in agony.

James Tuari, 48, pleaded guilty to a charge of wilful ill-treatment of an animal with the result that the pain or distress caused to the animal was so great that it was necessary to destroy the animal in order to end its suffering. He was sentenced to 9 months in prison, disqualified from owning dogs for 10 years, and ordered to pay reparations of $125.30.

The story began on 11 January 2016 when two Animal Control Officers and an SPCA Inspector attended the defendant’s property in Gisborne, following a complaint to the Gisborne District Council about an injured dog.

They found Brownie, a young adult dog, tied up in a small area by the side of the garage. The ground was strewn with rubbish and rags, and there was a blue plastic container containing a small amount of stagnant green water. There was blood on the walls close to where Brownie was tied up.

Brownie was in very thin body condition and had two obvious wounds on the top of her head. Both wounds were full of maggots, indicating that they were not fresh.

The SPCA Inspector took possession of the dog and transported her for an urgent veterinary examination, which revealed that Brownie had two, large holes measuring approximately 50mm by 50mm in her head. One of the holes opened into the cranial vault (the very thin piece of bone covering the back portion of the brain). Both holes contained fly eggs and maggots, which were approximately 0.5cm to 1.0cm long, indicating the wounds were two or three days old.

Brownie was also severely emaciated and extremely dehydrated, and faecal testing revealed she had an extremely high parasite burden.

The veterinarian recommended euthanasia because her prognosis was ‘hopeless’, and because her pain and distress was so great it was necessary to end her suffering. She went on to say that this was one of the most severe and disturbing cases she had seen because the dog had been subjected to two forceful blows to the head, and then been left without clinical treatment for at least two days.

When interviewed the defendant said that he had been told by his brother and a family member to ‘get rid of the dog’. So on 9 January he had hit her on the head three times with a club hammer and she had ‘gone down’. The defendant’s neighbours had heard what he was doing and leant over the fence, at which point the dog had ‘come to’. Even though he knew she was still alive, the defendant left her to die by herself.

“This is sickening cruelty involving extreme violence against a defenceless animal inflicted by someone with complete disregard for the suffering he has caused. It would have to be one of the most disturbing cases of animal cruelty we have seen in 2016,” says Andrea Midgen, SPCA New Zealand CEO (Acting).

“Brownie’s suffering was completely unnecessary. When you have the privilege of owning an animal, it is your responsibility to care for them for their whole life – not just when it suits you. If the defendant could no longer have her at his house, he should have tried to find Brownie a new home. He could have asked his local SPCA for help or advice. There were several steps he could have taken and the fact he jumped immediately to beating her to death is unfathomable.”