Suspended prison sentence for man who neglected blind and deaf dog

A man who left a blind and deaf dog to suffer multiple painful medical conditions with no veterinary care for months was today given a six month suspended sentence in the Elizabeth Magistrates Court.

54-year-old Geoffrey Mortensen pleaded guilty to two charges of Ill Treatment of an Animal under South Australia’s Animal Welfare Act. The charges related to failing to take reasonable steps to mitigate harm suffered by an elderly Fox Terrier Cross dog named Brandy who was in his custody and control. The charges also related to failing to provide adequate living conditions, with Brandy being housed in an area covered in dog faeces and urine.

Magistrate Nitschke sentenced the defendant to 6 months and 2 weeks imprisonment, suspended upon entry into a good behaviour bond in the sum of $500. Mortensen was also ordered to pay RSPCA South Australia $3950 in legal and veterinary fees, and banned from owning any animals indefinitely.

(Under South Australia’s Animal Welfare Act, maximum penalties for non-aggravated offences involving the ill treatment of an animal are two years in jail or a $20,000 fine. Aggravated offences of animal cruelty can result in maximum penalties of four years in jail or a $50,000 fine.)

RSPCA South Australia Inspectors attended the defendant’s property on 31 August 2017. The Inspectors found Brandy inside a fenced enclosure strewn with faeces within the property’s backyard. It was clear the dog was suffering significant medical issues, and she was immediately transported to RSPCA South Australia’s veterinary clinic at Lonsdale.

In a written statement submitted to the court, RSPCA South Australia’s Chief Veterinarian Dr Brad Ward identified multiple medical conditions stemming from months of neglect. These included an enlarged eye, a collapsed eye, an ingrown and infected toe nail causing an abscess, advanced periodontal disease, bilateral ear infections and roundworm infestation.

In his statement, Dr Ward said Brandy would have suffered a very high degree of pain over a long period of time as a result of these untreated conditions.

Highlighting the dog’s ingrown and infected toenail, Dr Ward stated that there was “always a very high level of long-term pain associated with such a condition”.

Given the dog’s pain and poor prognosis, euthanasia was deemed the only humane option.

RSPCA South Australia Chief Inspector Andrea Lewis described the level of neglect endured by Brandy as among the worst she had seen.

“This was an older dog, blind, deaf and totally vulnerable, who was completely abandoned by her owners when she needed them the most,” Ms Lewis said.

“No animal should be left to suffer to that degree for that long.

“It’s never alright to abandon an animal or to ignore its need for veterinary care, and we urge people to always seek help early so their animal does not suffer and has the best chance of recovery.”

A co-accused has also been charged in this matter and a warrant has been issued for their arrest.

RSPCA is the only South Australian charity with legal power to investigate animal cruelty – but inspectors rely on the public to be their eyes and ears. That’s why RSPCA has again launched its Combat Cruelty campaign, which asks South Australians to take the pledge to combat cruelty.

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