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Man breaches court order and obtains two dogs from people looking to rehome their pets online.
Craig Ronald WHITNEY, 33 years old, of Kippa-Ring, pleaded guilty on Wednesday 10th July to two charges in relation to breaching a prohibition order.
On 20 September 2018 at Redcliffe Magistrates Court, before Acting Magistrate W H Ehrich, the defendant pleaded guilty to one charge of animal cruelty pursuant to section 18 of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (the Act) and two charges of breach duty of care to an animal, pursuant to section 17 of the Act.
The offences related to Maremma puppies, and involved the defendant beating one Maremma puppy to death while the puppy was in the passenger seat of his courier business work vehicle, and then dumping that puppy’s body in a plastic shopping bag, off a bridge into water near Redcliffe. He was also convicted of failing to provide treatment for another two Maremma puppies, one that had a broken leg, and the other with vomiting and diarrhoea.
The defendant was convicted, and following submissions by his solicitor that he was self-employed as a courier driver and a recorded conviction would compromise his employment, his Honour exercised the discretion to not record a conviction. WHITNEY was placed on probation for a period of 2 years and ordered to pay a fine of $5,000, legal professional costs of $1,100, boarding and veterinary costs of $12,228.78, and $96.15 costs of summons.
His Honour made a prohibition order against WHITNEY stating that he must not possess, purchase or otherwise acquire any animal for a period of 5 years (until 20 September 2023).
On 29 October 2018, an RSPCA Inspector attended WHITNEY’s address after receiving information that he had adopted dogs from a local rescue group Red Collar Rescue after RSPCA had seized his dogs at the time of charging him with the offences relating to the Maremma puppies. WHITNEY initially denied having any dogs, but eventually admitted possessing a female Rhodesian Ridgeback dog named Flame, and that dog was seized by the Inspector. The Inspector reminded Mr WHITNEY that he was prohibited from possessing dogs.
In January 2019, WHITNEY answered an advertisement advertising a Bull Arab cross American Staffordshire Terrier dog named Tilly. Tilly had been adopted from Animal Welfare League as a puppy, then rehomed to another person, who in turn rehomed her to Whitney after being swayed by Whitney’s Facebook page where he advocated animal welfare and veganism.
Around the same time, WHITNEY answered another advertisement by an owner who had become sick and unable to care for their white and brown coloured male American Staffordshire Terrier dog named Titan. WHITNEY took possession of Titan.
On 1 February 2019, an RSPCA Inspector executed a warrant at WHITNEY’s property and seized both dogs.
Mr WHITNEY’s solicitor told the court that his client owned his own courier service and could not carry out deliveries to the airport if he had a conviction recorded. Magistrate Mark Bucknall said, “Well I am recording a conviction” and noted that the defendant had been provided an opportunity to have no conviction recorded the last time he was in court. The Magistrate said that WHITNEY had “egregiously breached a court order” so he will now have to wear the consequences.
His Honour said, “This is serious offending” and noted that the nature of the original offending in relation to the Maremma puppies was very serious, and said that WHITNEY was a man who should not be allowed near any dog. His Honour said, “The facts that gave rise to the making of a prohibition order in the first place were shocking… and you were dealt with somewhat leniently on that occasion.”
RSPCA Prosecutor Tracey Jackson said that WHITNEY had been ‘put on notice’ when the RSPCA Inspector seized a dog from him soon after he was convicted in September 2018, yet he took deliberate and wilful steps to obtain two dogs from owners who were advertising to rehome their dogs in January 2019.
The Magistrate said that WHITNEY had “flagrantly disobeyed” orders of the court and that a very clear message needed to be sent to him and to the members of the community that this is serious offending.
WHITNEY’s solicitor presented the court with printouts of negative commentary he had received on Facebook following his conviction for animal cruelty, but the Magistrate did not accept that this should have any impact in relation to WHITNEY’s contravention of the prohibition order.
In relation to the first charge involving Flame, WHITNEY was fined $2,000 (with half ordered to be paid to RSPCA), and in relation to the second charge involving Titan and Tilly, WHITNEY was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment suspended for 3 years. His conviction was recorded. He was ordered to also pay $441.38 in vet and boarding costs, $500 legal professional costs, and $99.55 costs of summons.
The Prosecutor sought a lifetime prohibition order against WHITNEY in relation to all animals, and the Magistrate made this order. Magistrate Bucknall said, “If you breach this order again you’re going to jail – simple as that.”