Published in the Northern Advocate 24/10/2011
A man who left his pet bulldog in extreme suffering for eight weeks after it broke its back was sentenced in the Kaitaia District Court yesterday to four months’ prison.
David John Simpkin, 40, a sickness beneficiary of Takahue, 30km south of Kaitaia, had earlier admitted a charge of wilfully ill-treating the dog between March 26 and May 21 this year.
The dog, called Mack, was near death when an SPCA inspector visited the property earlier this year. The rear part of the dog’s body was wasted to emaciation from a point between its shoulder blades and the dog was put down with its owner’s agreement. A post mortem found Mack’s spine was most likely crushed.
Mr Simpkin’s lawyer, Simon Punshon, said his client had come back to his property after being away for a few days to find his dog had been injured and was lying in a swamp.
He had taken the dog home in the hope it would recover from its injuries.
“He was very closely attached to his dog. He didn’t realise the extent of the injuries, largely because of the absence of any pain.
“After the seventh week, he noticed the dog wasn’t improving. It rapidly went down hill and lost control of its bowels and stopped eating.”
Simpkin had approached friends in the area to see if anyone was available to put the dog down but none could do it right away.
He had not considered contacting a vet because he was concerned about the cost and had no faith in the vet system.
Simpkin’s other animals – five cows, three chickens and another dog – were found to be in a reasonable condition, Mr Punshon said.
His client expressed remorse for the incident in two letters presented to the judge and had given the SPCA a cheque for $225 and had offered to do volunteer work for them.
The lowering of his reputation within the community because of the case had been a significant punishment and he had learned a “serious lesson from the whole thing”.
SPCA inspector Gail Boyd said the dog had suffered over an eight-week period within eyesight of the defendant’s home.
“He could have, at any stage, helped that animal,” she said.
In sentencing Simpkin, Judge James Rota said by anyone’s estimation the dog had come to a tragic end.
“If the court was to sentence on pure outrage, this man would spend a long time in prison,” he said.
Other aggravating features of the case were that Simpkin had not taken advantage of offers from associates to take the dog to the vet and had instead “persisted with his anti-vet views”.