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Melissa McIntyre

Published on 02/07/2020

(warning: the above link has a photo of Bella which some people may find disturbing)

Auckland woman prosecuted after sick dog found emaciated, covered in fleas

A pet dog with an untreated respiratory infection had to be put down after being found emaciated, covered in fleas and too weak to stand on her own.

The owner of the female staffordshire bull terrier cross named Bella was sentenced on Wednesday on a charge of ill-treating an animal.

The SPCA was notified in August last year that Bella was in an emaciated body condition.

A vet found discharge coming from Bella’s nostrils due to an untreated respiratory infection, there were abnormal lung sounds and evidence she had coughed up blood.

She was too weak to stand on her own and was covered in fleas.

A secondary veterinary examination confirmed Bella was emaciated.

The vet added Bella was moderately dehydrated, had tartar build-up on her teeth, a grade 4 heart murmur and excessively overgrown nails.

Both vets agreed Bella had been left untreated for a long time, causing her undue stress and suffering, and this would have been obvious to any lay person.

Bella was put down to prevent further suffering following her examinations.

Bella’s necropsy revealed she had significant skeletal muscle wasting and had been suffering from Cushing’s disease, as well as congestive heart failure and pneumonia.

“This dog had complex medical needs and was never taken to a vet to alleviate her symptoms. As a result, Bella suffered for the last months of her life. It is the responsibility of all pet owners to seek veterinary care for their animals if they require it,” SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen said.

Midgen said the case highlighted the failure of an owner to take care of their dog who was suffering for many months with complicated health issues.

Bella’s owner Melissa McIntyre was sentenced at Auckland District Court on Wednesday to six months supervision, disqualified from owning dogs for five years and ordered to pay the SPCA $1207 in reparations.

When interviewed, McIntyre said she had noticed Bella gradually losing weight about six months earlier and had given her more food and de-wormed her.

She noticed Bella looked “a lot worse” over the previous two months, with weight loss which was more “dramatic”.

She said she had not taken Bella to a vet even though she knew she should have, because she could not afford it and had been saving for it.

She surrendered ownership of Bella during the course of the investigation.