Woman Granted Sick Pay To Look After Her Dog

Fed up with chasing the dog and worried about what it might do, a  Taranaki man took matters into his own hands. (File Photo) Robert Kitchin

Fed up with chasing the dog and worried about what it might do, a Taranaki man took matters into his own hands. (File Photo)

Sick of looking after someone else's dog, a elderly man slit the canine's throat with a butcher's knife before burying the body in his backyard.

Ernest Burrows' offending on July 28 caused the dog - a Jack Russell Shih Tzu cross bred called Sophie - to suffer, an act also labelled as inhumane by the veterinarian who completed an autopsy on the dog following its exhumation, a Taranaki court was told.

On Tuesday, the 81-year-old pleaded guilty in the Hāwera District Court to killing Sophie in a manner that caused unreasonable or unnecessary pain.

The summary of facts said on November 2016, a boarder moved into Burrows' home, in Stratford, central Taranaki and Sophie accompanied her.

The woman moved out in January 2017 but the dog stayed in Burrows' care and he looked after her for the next seven months.

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On July 28, Burrows took a butcher's knife and slit the canine's throat before burying the dog on his property.

Days later, Sophie's owner asked Burrows where the dog was after she noticed a lack of food bowls at his home.

"The defendant advised that Sophie was no longer there and he 'took care of it'," the summary of facts said.

On August 9, a search warrant was executed at Burrows' property, where Sophie's grave was found and her remains recovered. An autopsy of the dog was then completed and the throat injury discovered.

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The veterinarian said it would have taken Sophie several minutes to die and the dog would have suffered unreasonable pain.  The vet also confirmed there was "no way to humanely slit a dog's throat".

When interviewed, Burrows admitted to killing Sophie and told SPCA officers he got tired of chasing after the dog.

"The defendant acknowledged that he did not want to pay for a vet to put her to sleep and had not called a vet for advice," the summary of facts stated.

The Hāwera District Court heard how Burrows was a first offender, with a stellar record of helping out in the community.

Lawyer Kelly Marriner said Burrows was well-respected and had done a great deal of voluntary work which had earned him recognition.

She said the dog was running out onto the road and as children often played nearby, Burrows had been concerned about what might happen so he took action instead.

"He understands now that what has happened should not have occurred," Marriner said.

She said Burrows was able to pay the $590.80 sought by SPCA to cover costs. 

The disqualification order preventing him from owning a dog for three years was unopposed.

Judge Chris Sygrove told Burrows his way of dealing with the problems he had with the dog were outdated.

"The old way of dealing with animals is gone," he said.

However, Burrows received praise from the judge for what he had done in the past.

"You have an excellent record in the community and I applaud you for that," the judge said.

Burrows was convicted of breaching the Animal Welfare Act and discharged. 

He was ordered to pay the reparation and banned from dog ownership for three years.

 - Stuff

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