Blind Jemma's Story

Dogs Happy Story RSPCA Inspectors Rescue Rehome Article taken from The Biscuit magazine Posted Feb 8, 2021
Almost 9 years ago, hundreds of dogs were rescued from a puppy farm at Wondai. It was one of the largest seizures of pets the RSPCA had encountered

This article is from The Biscuit magazine.

In September 2009, 244 dogs were seized from a property at Wondai (about 100 kilometres west of Gympie) by Biosecurity Queensland. It took around three days to transport all of the dogs into the then RSPCA shelter at Fairfield.

Dogs kept in cages before they were seized by RSPCA Inspectors

244 dogs were seized from conditions like these

The months ahead proved to be some of the toughest faced by RSPCA Queensland. Five of the incoming dogs needed emergency veterinary treatment, two died. It was costing almost $5,000 each day to care for the puppy farm dogs.

Here are just some of the pets rescued from the property at Wondai. Some of them required ongoing veterinary treatment for poor health; eyesight, dental problems, hip issues and skin allergies. Some also needed confidence building and socialisation. 

Here are just some of the pets rescued from the property at Wondai

Dog picture here with severe fur matting

Showing dental disease in one of the dogs seized

Puppy farm raid shows dog with ticks

Condition of the dogs seized were critical

Most of the puppy farm dogs were placed into foster care homes straight away while the case was under investigation.

This is how Tracey Wickham first came across Jemma the miniature poodle.  As a swimming world champion and gold medallist, Tracey is no stranger to highs and lows. Outside of her incredible career, life has been testing for Tracey. Her little Wondai dog Jemma, was there to help her through the tough times.

Little blind Jemma was in need of TLC when she was rescued

Little blind Jemma when she was brought into RSPCA

Jemma had matted fur round her legs and paws

Now, with her puppy farm days well behind her, Jemma is living a happy life with Tracey at nearly 13 years of age.

Tracey with Jemma living a happy life

Even today our RSPCA Inspectorate sees cases just like the Wondai property. Animal cruelty and neglect is still very much present in society. You can help by reporting animal welfare concerns to the RSPCA via 1300 ANIMAL or online.

If you are looking for a companion, consider adoption. Our Smart Puppy Buyers Guide and Smart Kitten Buyers Guide is a great tool to help you find a pet suitable to your lifestyle and avoid unscrupulous breeders.  

You can read more about where the survivors of the Wondai puppy farm are now in Issue 7 of The Biscuit. Grab your copy online, or at your nearest RSPCA Adoption Centre or World for Pets store. Never miss an issue by subscribing today.

What penalties were imposed on the Wondai property owners?

Ruth Schloss, 55, pleaded guilty to one charge of cruelty to animals, one charge of breaching her duty of care to animals and one charge of failing to comply with an animal welfare direction without reasonable excuse. Ruth Schloss was fined a total of $9,000 and ordered to pay $10,000 compensation, no convictions were recorded and a prohibition order was made that she not acquire any dog for a year or more than three dogs for two years.

Kenneth Schloss, 63, pleaded guilty to one charge of cruelty to animals and one charge of breaching his duty of care to animals. Kenneth Schloss was fined a total of $6,000 and ordered to pay $10,000 compensation. No convictions were recorded and similar prohibition orders were made against him.

The prosecution appealed against the leniency of the original sentence. District Court Judge Bradley noted, “This is a case of disturbing cruelty to animals, the couple grossly breached their duty of care. The conditions demonstrated on the video are most concerning, and the evidence of the suffering of particular dogs is distressing.” However after examining the couple's finances and the Magistrate's reasons, her Honour found that the penalties were not manifestly inadequate, and dismissed the appeal to increase the penalties.

Emma Lagoon
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