Tuesday 16 January 2024

Neglect your cat or dog's allergies long enough and you can be convicted of a crime

This is a story about a dog but it could be about a cat. It is also a story about a not untypical pet health problem namely allergies through allergens in the air or in what they eat. So were talking about a typical cat or dog caregiving situation. 

And in this story which comes from Australia, a fly-in fly-out (FIFO) worker (usually mining) and his wife failed to deal with their dog's allergies to the extent where the dog lost a lot of hair and had raised lumps and thickened, cracked and flaking skin. The dog had also developed an ear infection which was possibly associated with the allergy.

We don't know what kind of allergen caused the allergy but they are difficult to deal with and this dog required veterinary treatment at an early stage and perhaps ongoing veterinary treatment. But she was found in the backyard which was covered in faeces because the wife didn't like clearing up faeces.

The neglect was reported to the RSPCA of Western Australia probably by a neighbour. The couple were taken to court where they pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable steps to prevent an animal from suffering harm. They were convicted therefore of animal cruelty and fined AU$2500 each and banned from owning any pets except for the three cats that they already had in their care.

The dog concerned, Ella, was taken off them and has been rehabilitated and rehomed. She is described as a sweetheart and everybody loved her at the RSPCA. It is hard to think about her suffering as occurred simply through a careless approach to pet caregiving and their lack of funding to deal with veterinary treatment.

The owner agreed that she had suffered with allergies her whole life. He appears to have excused himself to a certain extent by saying that the veterinary bills would have been too expensive.

Comment: what do we learn from this little story? Firstly, you got to have the money to do a good job of cat or dog caregiving. You cannot do it without sufficient funding. And that issue needs to be dealt with before you adopt a pet. It requires some seriously hard questions and answers by the person who wants to adopt a pet.

Secondly, simple neglect which might not feel like anything severe by the cat or dog owner but which becomes severe over a long period of time can be described as criminal behaviour. It'll be a sliding scale from minor neglect which would not be criminal to long-term neglect which can be and often is criminal.

Pet owners should realise that. It's a slippery slope perhaps. But there's no need to embark on that slippery slope. If a cat or dog owner faces the problem and deals with it honestly in admitting that they don't have the will or the money to care for their dog or cat properly then they should rehome the animal as soon as possible. 

They should surrender the animal ideally to an adopter of their choosing through a private arrangement as long as I know for sure that the other person is going to be a good cat or dog caregiver or through a shelter which should be of good quality and where euthanasia is a genuine last resort.

The bottom line is that this couple could have rehomed their dog years ago which would have avoided the pain and suffering she experienced. It would have also avoided their conviction for criminal behaviour and lastly, it would have eased their conscience if they have one for causing this cruelty. It required an honest self-appraisal.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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