ACT News


RSPCA euthanise three dogs subjected to 'appalling and abhorrent' treatment

The RSPCA have been forced to euthanise three dogs whose treatment was described by a court as abhorrent, appalling and an offence to the Canberra community.

The dogs were seized from a Belconnen couple in late 2014 in a severely emaciated state with illnesses from inadequate worming.

Inspectors were appalled by the dogs' poor living conditions and an unwillingness to provide appropriate care.

The couple kept the dogs on chains to stop them attacking each other, with one found with a bloody ear on inspection.

RSPCA chief executive Tammy Ven Dange said was bitterly disappointed by the outcome as there was no other option.

"We did everything that we could for these dogs," she said. "During the 14 months that we had to hold them for these court matters, we devoted significant training resources to help them become family dogs again."


Ms Ven Dange said the Rhodesian ridgeback and staffy-crosses were too traumatised by their past and would not have been safe to release back into the public.

"At least we know that they are no longer suffering like they were before," she said.

On Wednesday morning, Fairfax Media was contacted by emotional Canberrans who offered to foster the dogs and nurse them back to health.

"There is a big hole in our household that would be well filled by this poor bedraggled soul," said Melville Leslie.

On Monday, the owner of the dogs was banned from owning an animal for five years and ordered to conduct 350 hours of community service and subject to a three-year good behaviour order.

Shawn Hemphill, 32, became tearful when sentenced by Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter in the ACT Magistrates Court.

Ms Hunter said the dogs were found in "a very, very deplorable state" that should have been an immediate concern for the couple. She said the dogs had been living in filth at the back of the property.

"They were supposed to be your family, your pets," she said. "The community finds it abhorrent and quite frankly so do I."

According to a veterinary statement, the Rhodesian ridgeback was severely emaciated due to starvation and illnesses caused by inadequate worming and no veterinary care.

Hemphill's long-term partner, Samantha Flood, 32, was also sentenced to a two-year good behaviour order and 30 hours of community service, to be completed over two years.

Ms Hunter accepted the dogs did not belong to Flood but found she was responsible for their care and responsible for their poor condition.

During the preparation of the pre-sentence report, Flood expressed shame about the way the dogs were treated and became tearful when describing their conditions.