GRAPHIC IMAGE WARNING: A Wilsonton woman who tied a rubber band and shoelace around her pet poodle's mouth to stop it barking has admitted to animal cruelty.
Solicitor Chris Lumme, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, told Toowoomba Magistrates Court that, going by the nature and depth of the injuries around the dog's mouth and snout, an examining veterinarian estimated the muzzle to have been on the poodle for four to seven days.
However, the poodle's owner Jodie May Paton, 28, told officers she had applied the muzzle on her pet "Cookie" for just two days.
Mr Lumme said the dog's injuries had become infected and that while muzzled in such a way the dog had not been able to drink or eat and was found to have been dehydrated and underweight as a result.
The poodle had since recovered and had been re-homed though it would maintain significant scarring, he said.
RSPCA officers called to the Wilsonton residence found the dog bleeding from around the mouth and gums, the court heard.
A strong smell coming from the dog pointed to the wounds already being infected.
When spoken to by officers, Paton said she felt sorry for Cookie and had known of her injuries though she had not meant to harm the poodle.
She admitted she had heard Cookie whimpering in her kennel.
Paton pleaded guilty to one count of animal cruelty by causing unnecessary and unreasonable pain and to one count of breaching a duty of care to an animal by failing to provide food and water.
The court heard she had been suffering depression arising from family issues.
Magistrate Damian Carroll said animal cruelty was considered so serious that the parliament had increased the maximum penalties to three years jail or a maximum fine of $200,000.
"By any reckoning this was a serious case of animal cruelty," he told Paton.
However, taking into account she had no previous criminal history and that she was looking for work, Mr Carroll ordered the conviction not be recorded.
Paton was ordered to do 200 hours community service and pay $750 professional costs and $86.80 cost of summons.
Mr Carroll ordered Paton be prohibited from having or acquiring any animal for two years.