Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pregnant woman avoids jail

From The Timaru Herald

Pregnancy saved an Oamaru woman who left malnourished and emaciated dogs to starve to death from being sent to jail.
Sheryl Santos Teriaki, 19, was sentenced to two months' home detention and 100 hours' community work for ill-treating animals and failing to prevent suffering when she appeared in the Oamaru District Court yesterday.
Teriaki is six months pregnant.
"That fact alone has saved you by the narrowest margin from a sentence of imprisonment," Judge Paul Kellar said.
The veterinarian who dealt with the case said it was the worst case of animal neglect she had seen in her 19 years in the job, he said. She believed the dogs had been neglected for at least four months.
The abuse occurred when Teriaki was living in Riversdale, Southland. Police and the SPCA were called to her address on June 8 following complaints from neighbours.
They found several dogs of different ages and breeds in such poor condition that some were barely able to move.
Teriaki said she had arrived home from visiting Oamaru to find her partner, who was meant to be caring for the dogs, had left.
She found a dead puppy and buried it before heading to Gore to look for her partner.
Police also discovered a small sleepout where five small puppies were housed. It was littered with faeces and urine and had no food or water available.
Nine dogs were located and required urgent veterinarian care.
A staffordshire pitbull cross was extremely thin with protruding ribs, spine and hip bones and had to be put down.
Two six-week-old puppies were described as "close to death" from dehydration and hypothermia.
An autopsy on the dead puppy showed it had no food in its stomach or intestines and there were indications it had not been wormed for some time.
The cause of death was attributed to starvation and hypothermia. A second puppy found dead at the address was found to have died of the same causes.
"The facts make for somewhat disturbing reading," Judge Kellar said.
"There is a photo attached to the summary of facts (that) I wouldn't wish on anybody."
He said if Teriaki could not afford to care for the dogs there were other options available.
"It's perhaps trite that pets depend on their owners to take responsibility for them ... [therefore] owners have got a responsibility to provide at least some of [their basic needs]."
The sentence should highlight "under no uncertain terms" the abuse was completely unacceptable, he said.
Teriaki had shown little remorse for the abuse except until Tuesday when she made a $100 donation to the SPCA, he said.
She was disqualified from owning a dog for 10 years. 

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