A Dunedin man who stabbed his mastiff-cross dog with hedge
clippers has been jailed for just over a year and banned from
owning another dog.
Jason Karl Blackler (44), painter, had been drinking and
using synthetic cannabis when he bailed up the dog he had
raised since it was a tiny puppy and chopped and stabbed at
it with a pair of hedge clippers because it had urinated on a
The attack was ''a cruel and disproportionate response'' to
an event that could routinely happen with a domestic animal -
''urinating where they shouldn't'', Judge Michael Crosbie
said in the Dunedin District Court yesterday.
Blackler wept in the dock as counsel Rhona Daysh told the
court the dog had been recovering from its life-threatening
chest and shoulder injuries but had to be euthanised because
of its personality and because it was ''a one-man dog''.
Blackler had to live with those consequences, Ms Daysh said.
He had owned the animal for five years, had never ill-treated
it and regarded it as his best friend and closest companion.
He loved it and it loved him. He was ''completely
devastated'' by what he had done and would never have behaved
in such a way if he had been sober.
When he did sober up, he felt ''disgusted'' with himself, Ms
Daysh said, describing the attack as a brief impulsive act
when Blackler was angry with the dog because it had urinated
on a kitchen mat and on a bed.
Most of the defendant's extensive criminal history was not
recent, apart from assaults in 2012 and last year, and the
particular incident was seen by his partner and others as out
Blackler had conquered his use of illicit drugs but still had
''a huge problem'' with alcohol, Ms Daysh said, describing
him as a hard worker, something that had helped keep him free
of offending for some time.
The December 6 incident had cost him dearly.
His partner had left him, taking their young daughter, and
had since decided to end the relationship.
He had also lost his home and probably his hard-won credit
rating. A jail sentence starting at between 12 and 16 months
would be appropriate, Ms Daysh submitted. Blackler had been
in custody for three months.
Prosecutor Sergeant Paul Knox said a 16-month starting point
He also asked for a disqualification order as provided under
the Animal Welfare Act. Judge Crosbie told Blackler he found
it ''a little difficult'' to accept the dog's personality,
leading to the animal having to be euthanised, was not
related to what had happened to it.
The defendant's partner, in her victim impact statement, said
she would never forget picking up the whimpering, injured dog
and putting it in the car with blood spraying everywhere and
Blackler standing nearby saying Boy (the dog) was
She would also never forget the smile on the defendant's face
and his lack of empathy for the dog's pain, the judge said.
In a letter to the court, Blackler referred to ''ghosts''
from his past, and that he had bipolar disorder.
But a psychiatrist's report said there was a 20-year history
of mood-related symptoms which were clearly related to an
antisocial disorder and other problems including
Probation assessed the defendant's likelihood of reoffending
as high, because of his history, his polysubstance dependence
and his psychological issues, Judge Crosbie said.
He acknowledged that, in other areas of his life, Blackler
was able to work well and that he had already taken part in
rehabilitative programmes while in prison awaiting sentence.
It was sad he said the dog was his best friend and he did not
know how ''this'' had happened, because he had never even
slapped the animal. But when he shouted at him before
starting the attack, the dog was already cowering, the judge
Dogs were extremely intelligent and aware of what was going
on, he told Blackler.
''This dog would obviously have been traumatised by what was
happening to him- that's the nature of domestic animals. When
you take one on, you take on a responsibility.''
Blackler described himself as being in ''an addictive phase''
of his life, but he had been in that phase ''for years'',
Judge Crosbie said. Blackler had been violent and those
tendencies seemed to have emerged in his dealings with people
in recent years and then in his dealing with an animal he
said was his best friend.
Given the degree of violence involved, the suggested starting
point of 16 months was ''probably about right'', the judge
Balancing the various aggravating and mitigating factors,
including Blackler's remorse, his guilty plea and his offer
of reparation, Judge Crosbie sentenced him to 12 months and
two weeks' imprisonment, followed by six months' conditions
for counselling and treatment for substance abuse and
On an associated charge of resisting police, Blackler was
given a concurrent one-month prison term.
He was ordered to pay the $1618.20 reparation to cover the
veterinary fees and was permanently banned from owning