Tazer the puppy had to be euthanised after suffering a horrific case of the skin disease Demodectic Mange.
Tazer the puppy had to be euthanised after suffering a horrific case of the skin disease Demodectic Mange. Contributed

Couple in court as dog found emaciated, covered in sores

WHEN an RSPCA inspector arrived at the home of a South Mackay couple, they were met with a horrifying sight.

Tazer the puppy was emaciated, her body was hairless, she was dry retching and 60% of her body was covered in weeping sores.

Tazer's owners Rodney John Bridge, 37, and Lyn Smith, 47, have pleaded guilty to breaching duty of care to an animal from January 15 to February 8 last year in the Mackay Magistrates Court.

In court yesterday, barrister Patrick Cullinane, acting for the RSPCA, described Tazer's injuries.

He said on February 8 last year, Tazer was taken from the Mackay couple and taken to a vet where she was diagnosed with the skin disease Demodetic Mange.

Tazer ate "vigorously" when she was given food.

Rodney John Bridge and Lyn Smith leaving Mackay Magistrates Court.
Rodney John Bridge and Lyn Smith leaving Mackay Magistrates Court. Lucy Smith

The dog's critical condition meant the decision was made to euthanize her.

Mr Cullinane said a post mortem on February 12 showed Tazer hadn't been fed for five to seven days before death and had possibly not been fed adequately for at least a month or more.

Outside court, Natalie Aitken, who's been the RSPCA Regional Inspector in Mackay since April and appeared in court today, said the images were the worst case of Demodetic Mange she'd ever seen, including in her 12 years of working as a vet.

"The condition of the dog is the worst I've ever seen… that poor animal must have been in so much suffering," she said.

RSPCA Queensland media and community relations staffer Michael Beatty said the dog could "best be described as 'the walking dead'."

In court, Bridge's defence Zoe Craven said the couple had taken Tazer after seeing an ad in the newspaper in December 2014. Soon after, the pair had noticed Tazer itching.

She said they'd phoned a vet who said Tazer may have mange.

Ms Craven said Bridge received about $470 a week from Centrelink and had been waiting on the payment to attend a veterinary clinic.

She said Bridge and Smith had been attempting to heal Tazer by bathing her, using tea tree oil, shampoo, flea treatment and had been attempting to feed her.

When Magistrate Damien Dwyer asked whether there was proof of the phone call, Ms Craven said Bridge had been unable to recall which vet he'd called.

Mr Cullinane asked Mr Dwyer to order that Bridge and Smith be banned from owning a pet for five years.

Ms Craven asked that the pair be allowed to keep the pets they currently own.

She said when RSPCA attended their home, the inspector had noted that the couple's 10-year-old dog was in a healthy state.

She said the couple were "animal lovers" who didn't routinely neglect animals.

Mr Dwyer said he would need to see proof before sentencing the couple.

"This is just cruel. I'm seriously thinking of sending them to prison, in fact I think I am going to send them to prison unless you can persuade me otherwise," he said.

He ordered that the matter be adjourned to allow the RSPCA inspector who attended in 2015 to confirm whether there had been well-cared for animals at Bridge and Smith's home.

The pair is expected to be sentenced on June 27.



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