Man jailed for stabbing attack on dog he loved

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 kitchen mat.

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 of character.

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 was warranted.

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 ''obsolete''.

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 polysubstance abuse.

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 said.

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 said.

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 violence-related issues.

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 another dog.