Murray Johnson

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Murray Johnson

Published on 02/09/2020

A Christchurch man was captured on video beating his dog with a wooden plank so violently the animal suffered internal injuries.

Murray Johnson on Wednesday pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court to breaching the Animal Welfare Act. He was sentenced to 150 hours of community work, ordered to pay a fine of $1500 to the SPCA and disqualified from owning dogs for three years.

The SPCA became aware of the incident after a witness captured the abuse on video in September last year. A spokeswoman for the society said the person heard the dog yelping loudly in pain and saw Johnson using a plank of wood to beat him with significant force in his backyard.

The spokeswoman said the video of the “violent attack” was very distressing to watch.

Police were called to the house and SPCA inspectors searched the property the following day. The dog, a bull mastiff named Bolo, was seized along with a wooden plank with blood on it and a large splinter of wood.

A veterinarian examined Bolo and found he was resistant to moving his shoulders, and had a bleeding wound on his face below his right eye and a puncture wound on his lower right lip, which needed stitches.

Tests showed Bolo had elevated levels of creatine kinase in his blood, which showed he had suffered a tremendous amount of muscle damage.

X-rays also showed the area around the dog’s kidneys was likely to have been subjected to physical trauma.

The vet concluded Bolo’s suffering was both physical and mental, and the wounds on his head and mouth would have been extremely painful due to the large number of nerves there.

The SPCA spokeswoman said Bolo’s size and robust bone structure, being a giant breed dog, likely protected him from more serious injuries.

When interviewed, Johnson agreed he had “taken things too far”.

He said Bolo had got through a gate and was trying to have a fight with another dog, which made him “lose it” and hit his dog twice.

SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen said that while meting out violence to animals was never appropriate, this case was particularly devastating due to the sustained mental and physical pain the dog had endured.

“When an animal is displaying signs of unwanted behaviour, physical punishment is not the answer.

“Instead, an owner should train their dog to respond to positive reinforcement of good behaviours, use lots of praise and have patience with their animal,” she said.