Fears for dog back with owner

A woman seen by witnesses beating her dog in Gore is being allowed to keep the animal after an investigation by the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

Police and SPCA responded to the incident in Main St on the morning of October 31 last year, which was witnessed by several people and was partially recorded on CCTV.

Witness Cindy Anderson said she saw the owner trying to choke the dog.

‘‘I think she was punching it in the head . . . it was horrible.’’

SPCA inspectorate team lead Jamie Hancock told The Ensign on November 10 that the dog had been taken for a veterinary examination by SPCA investigators and said in December its investigation was ongoing.

However, Stacey Smith, a relation of the owner, said the dog was returned just seven minutes after the incident.

‘‘I said to her, ‘you’re lucky you’ve still got him after what you did to him’.’’

Ms Hancock said as a result of the SPCA’s investigation, which had since concluded, a person had ‘‘received an educative outcome in response to the incident’’.

‘‘After extensively reviewing the CCTV footage, SPCA inspectors could find no evidence to suggest the dog was punched or kicked.

‘‘The dog was also thoroughly examined by a veterinarian who found no evidence of injury consistent with blunt force trauma,’’ she said.

Ms Smith had spent some time with the dog recently and was concerned for its physical and mental health.

‘‘You could see his ribs. He just looked sad,’’ she said.

‘‘My heart absolutely breaks for him. I helped raise him from a pup.’’

Ms Hancock said the SPCA was aware of public concerns and did everything possible to ‘‘protect the welfare of each animal’’ they were involved with.

‘‘All decisions to take and to maintain possession of animals, or to leave them with or return them to their owners, are given appropriate, careful consideration, and we are bound by the law in these situations.’’

A police spokesman said police could become involved in prosecutions involving animal welfare in certain circumstances.

‘‘However, these usually come from a referral from other agencies such as SPCA, who will do the initial investigation.’’

In the first instance, animal welfare is a matter for other agencies before police, he said.

‘‘The police’s role in these circumstances is usually to support other agencies when they request it.’’