Vet is unfit to own pets

2014-02-18 00:00

A KWAZULU-NATAL veterinary surgeon, Louise Powell from Howick, has pleaded guilty to ill-treating her six dogs and a cat and was declared unfit to own pets.

But there is a happy ending for all the animals involved as they have all found new homes.

In her statement, Powell said on April 18 last year she had left her dogs confined in small cages.

She was charged after Umgeni SPCA seized five Yorkshire Terriers, a Japanese Chin dog (which is a similar breed to a Pekingese), as well as a cat, from a vacant property in Merri­vale on April 18 last year.

The dogs were discovered living in small cages locked inside a dark and dingy outbuilding on the smallholding suffering from flea infestation and skin conditions, and some had to undergo dental procedures due to the poor condition of their teeth. The cat, though roaming free on the property, was also removed by the officials who were concerned that there was no one on the property to care for it adequately. The SPCA was alerted to the dogs’ plight by a passer-by who heard whimpering, yelping and barking while walking in the vicinity. After obtaining a search warrant, SPCA officials were escorted to the property by police and gained entry to the locked outbuilding by cutting a padlock.

The statement read by her legal aid attorney Ntuthuko Mkhize, said, “I had tied their hair up in such a manner that would cause pain and ... caused unnecessary suffering to the animals. I knew I had to treat my animals with care and not cruelty but yet I did, by leaving them.”

Adding that the animals suffered unnecessarily, she said she is remorseful for her actions and begged the court’s mercy when imposing sentence.

The animals were confiscated by the SPCA last year.

Umgeni SPCA senior inspector Jeanetta Maria Salzwedel’s affidavit was handed to court. It stated that they spent R35 per day on the animals, which added up to R52 850. She said the animals had also been treated by a vet.

State prosecutor Loretta Knox, during argument, said Powell should have known better and taken care of the animals as she is a vet.

“The conditions of the animals were shocking.”

She asked that she should be declared unfit to own animals.

Magistrate T.J. Nene convicted her and sentenced her to pay a R5 000 fine or undergo three months’ imprisonment, wholly suspended on condition that she is not convicted of the same charges during the suspension period.

The dogs have been confiscated by the SPCA and Powell was declared unfit to own any animal for the period of three years and must pay R3 000 to the SPCA.

Dudu Abraham, spokesperson of the Umgeni SPCA, said because the animals had been there for almost a year, they all already had prospective homes.

“People have been coming in and spending time with them. One little female will be coming home with me. I’ve named her Teaspoon because she is so tiny. I’ve always had a soft spot for her. She knows me, but today’s going to be the test because she’ll be in my home. I’ll bring her back to be sterilised. Within the next few days they’ll all be in their new homes.”

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