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Dog Beater's Sentence Sends Message

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A man who savagely beat a puppy with the handle of a fishing rod and punched it in the face several times has been jailed for six months.

Maxwell Johnson, 29, of Mangere, pleaded guilty this year to wilfully ill-treating an animal – the most serious charge under the Animal Welfare Act, with a maximum penalty of five years' jail.

In the Manukau District Court today, Judge Charles Blackie rejected a pre-sentence report advising a period of supervision and community work, saying it would not send the right message.

"I don't consider the sentences suggested to be appropriate," he said.

"They wouldn't demonstrate the seriousness of your actions to the point where you and others are deterred from taking this action against animals that are always vulnerable."

On June 29, Johnson punched the puppy in the face several times "with full force", then hit it several more times with the wooden end of a fishing rod.

He told police the dog – a year-old bull terrier-cross called Boy – had bitten him, but officers could not find any evidence of that.

A member of the public reported the attack and SPCA staff went to the address the next day to investigate.

They found the dog "drooling a bloody fluid". He was stiff and slow to stand and limped on his front right leg.

A veterinarian's examination showed the dog had a penetration injury to the left eye, one tooth knocked out, several others loose and damaged, a fractured jaw and a fractured right foreleg.

The eye had to be removed, as did five teeth.

When asked what he did to offer treatment to the puppy, Johnson said he had thrown a bucket of water over him.

At the time, Johnson admitted to police he had struck the puppy on previous occasions, but in court today he denied that.

His defence counsel said Johnson was unemployed at the time, but had recently got a job as an arborist and bought a house, where he was living with his partner and three children.

Johnson had no history of violence and his lawyer described the attack as "impulsive and spontaneous" rather than sadistic.

Paw Justice spokesman Craig Dunn, who was in court for the sentencing, said outside court that the attack was horrific and should have warranted a longer jail term.

Regardless, he was pleased Judge Blackie had sent a message to other potential offenders.

Johnson was jailed for six months, ordered to forfeit any other animals in his possession, banned from owning a pet for 10 years and ordered to pay $4331 costs to the SPCA.

Ad Feedback He wiped away tears as he was led away by police, and his partner wept in the public gallery.

Boy is now healthier and living with a foster family.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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  • 2 weeks later...

How sad for the tortured puppy --- but it's good to see sentencing is beginning to reflect the severity of the crime .... and to send a message that this behaviour is totally unacceptable. Shame it wasn't a longer sentence, really.

But it is a beginning

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  • 1 month later...

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