A dog owner who starved a puppy to death today "narrowly"
escaped jail, but has been banned form owning animals for
Greg Bell's brindle-staffordshire terrier cross was found by
animal welfare inspectors in such poor condition that it had
to be euthanised.
The SPCA was tipped off in April by a member of the public
concerned about the condition of a distressed and emaciated
puppy seen at a flat in the Spreydon area of Christchurch.
Inspectors visited the next day to find the female puppy with
its ribs and hips showing, a skin condition, green discharge
from the eyes and "depressed demeanour".
A vet found it riddled with mange and anaemia, while
suffering from starvation, and a decision was taken to have
it put down.
Bell, 25, had earlier pleaded guilty to charges of failing to
provide the puppy with proper and sufficient food and
veterinary treatment to alleviate unreasonable and
unnecessary pain or distress.
At Christchurch District Court, he narrowly avoided a jail
Judge David Holderness said the dog was found in a "piteous
After looking at photos of the dog, taken by SPCA inspectors
before it was put down, the judge noted: "It looks to be a
wretched dog, and it's plain that it's been in that condition
for some time."
A necropsy found a total loss of internal fat.
The SPCA said the animal would have suffered undue stress,
suffering and pain.
Bell told SPCA inspectors he couldn't afford to take the
sickly pooch to a vet and became angry when they came to take
the dog away.
Defence counsel Craig Fletcher said Bell had been trying to
feed it dog biscuits, but other dogs it was living with were
When it got very thin, a limited family income meant he
couldn't take it to the vet, he said.
"This, frankly, is a serious case of its type," Judge
But "by a narrow margin", he decided to sentence Bell to 14
weeks of community detention, with a 7pm to 6am curfew, and
120 hours of community work.
Bell was ordered to pay $319.90 in reparation to the SPCA,
and $1200 toward their legal costs. He has been disqualified
from owning any animals for four years.