A Massey University veterinarian says the dog that was found with an ear and skin infection and seriously underweight in a Palmerston North backyard was a "textbook depiction" of what an emaciated and close-to-death animal looked like.
Yesterday, bar manager Jessica Marie Atkins, 32, was in Palmerston North District Court for a defended hearing in front of Judge Les Atkins after pleading not guilty to two counts of mistreating an animal.
The charges related to her black labrador cross Aries, which was found in an emaciated state by two SPCA inspectors at a Botanical Rd address on August 17 last year. The dog was taken from the property by inspectors and examined by a vet.
Massey University vet Dr Magdeline Soo found the dog was emaciated to the point of near death, had skin and ear infections and fleas.
The last time Atkins had taken her dog to the vet was on March 13, 2010, when she was given ointment for the skin infection.
Dr Soo told the court about the two examinations she made of the dog on August 17 and 18, 2010.
She found Aries to be "seriously underweight", with his ribs, hips and spine protruding.
According to the Body Condition Score test - which measures a dog's health from one (emaciated and near death) to nine (obese) - Aries scored a one to two, Dr Soo said.
"I think 30 kilograms would be a good starting point [weight]," she said.
"He was 23.3kg when I saw him. He was seriously underweight. It was a textbook depiction of what a one to two score on the Body Condition Score would look like."
Crown prosecutor Paul Murray asked Dr Soo if she would be worried about this dog if she had seen it wandering the streets.
"I would be appalled. It's very unfair to an animal to be subjected to discomfort for over weeks or months."
Atkins' lawyer Simon Parsons asked if it would be reasonable for a dog owner to monitor the animal's health - such as an ear or skin infection - before rushing to a vet.
Dr Soo agreed it would be reasonable for a dog owner to wait if they considered it to be minor, but said it would not be responsible to leave the dog in that state for more than a week.
The hearing was due to continue on August 29.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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