Diversion offered over dog's death

The owner of a dog that died when it was left leashed inside a car says being taken to court over the incident is like killing the animal twice.

Jae-Hak Lee, 21, and Insuk Choi, 20, were each charged with recklessly ill-treating an animal, over the death of their dog on Boxing Day.

Court documents say the pair left the dog "leashed inside a car, causing it to die".

The pair entered no pleas in the North Shore District Court yesterday, where police offered them diversion on the charges.

Outside court, Mr Lee said he was "pleased" to get the chance to avoid a conviction as neither he nor Ms Choi had any previously.

He was unhappy about the charges being laid, saying: "Coming to court is like killing our dog two times".

On Boxing Day Mr Lee and Ms Choi left their eight-week-old Shih Tzu-Poodle cross in the car for about 90 minutes.

They left the window down a little and the dog had food and water, Mr Lee said.

But on their return to the vehicle they discovered the dog had died, so they called police.

Mr Lee said he felt "really bad" about what happened.

Hans Kriek, of animal advocacy group SAFE, said such instances of shoddy ownership were fairly common. The former SPCA inspector said many owners didn't appreciate how hot it could get inside a vehicle when a dog was left there.

"The sad thing is most people don't intent to kill their dog in this way. They are just negligent. They don't think."

Mr Kriek suggested making prospective dog owners undertake some sort of assessment about their knowledge of the animal's requirements.

This case was a reminder to dog owners not to take the risk of leaving their animals locked in a vehicle, he said.

- By Jimmy Ellingham of APNZ


Diversion is a scheme run by police that allows some first or small-time offenders to avoid a conviction in exchange for performing set tasks or paying a donation to charity.

If that is done to the police's satisfaction they withdraw the criminal charge, which in this case carries a maximum penalty of three months' jail or a $50,000 fine.



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