In 2021, RSPCA Inspectors responded to complaints involving a number of animals and concerns about their poor living conditions and access to food and water. As part of the investigation, RSPCA inspectors executed a warrant at the property and seized 111 animals which were mainly dogs (predominantly small breed dogs), as well as a number of cats and some birds.
On 16 December 2022, at the Magistrates Court in Townsville, His Honour Magistrate Mack found a 52-year-old woman guilty of 128 offences under the Animal Care and Protection Act (2001). The woman was found not guilty of an offence under section 17(2) of the Act in relation to a bird.
His Honour stated in court, “The defendant has shown no insight in relation to the offending and there is a complete lack of remorse on her behalf.”
“In this case, the offences were significant, the effect on the animals varied but in many cases were debilitating and others catastrophic to the extent that the animals cannot be rehomed and will be put down. All the animals owned by the defendant suffered as a consequence of her inability to adequately provide for them.”
The offences of breach of duty of care were in relation to the woman not taking reasonable steps to provide for the needs of animals for the following in a way that was appropriate:
- s17(3)(a)(i) - Food and Water - 47 x charges
- s17(3)(a)(ii) - Accommodation or living conditions - 53 x charges
- s17(3)(a)(iii) - To display normal patterns of behaviour - 14 x charges
- s17(3)(a)(iv) - Treatment of disease or injury - 11 x charges
The woman was prohibited from owning animals for a period of 5 years.
The following were also made by the Magistrate:
- A fine of $30,000;
- A Disposal Order in relation to all animals in the care of RSPCA
- Ordered costs under section 189 of the Act in the amount of $125,000; and
- Ordered legal professional costs under the Justices Act in the amount of $3,885.
- Ordered that all costs are referred to SPER.
RSPCA GM Inspectorate Rachel Woodrow says, “The conviction demonstrates that when people allow the number of animals under their care to get out of control and they are unable to provide for their living conditions, food and water, and medical care, they can face serious consequences.”
“Unfortunately, this case is not unique, it is something our Inspectors encounter far too often where people have too many animals and are unable to properly care for them.”
“If you are struggling to care for the animals you have, reach out and ask for help before their wellbeing is put at risk.”
RSPCA is pleased the case has now finalised in this long-awaited outcome for the animals.