Spraying dog in face 'self defence'

Last updated 12:44 06/03/2014

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A man who sprayed oven cleaner in a dog's face twice at a dog walking park has begun his trial by saying it was self defence.

The unusual trial of ill-treatment of an animal began today at the Wellington District Court.

Sergey Zhernov, 59, of Porirua has pleaded not guilty to a charge of ill-treating a dog by spraying it in the face with oven cleaner on January 8 last year.

Crown prosecutor Jamie Eng said Zhernov was in the off-lead dog walking part of Ascot Park.

The dog's owner was walking her dog, and another in the park. Both dogs were ahead of her.

She could see Zhernov near a track and he waited off the track as the dogs got closer.

Eng said Zhernov called out, telling the woman to put the dogs on the lead.

He then sprayed the oven cleaner into the face of the woman's dog.

The owner asked him what it was but he walked away. However, shortly after he sprayed the dog again.

Eng said when police spoke to him Zhernov said the dogs were vicious and admitted he carried the oven cleaner with the intent to spray dogs.

The dog had to be treated by a vet for a burn to the eyes.

Eng said the jury had to decide if Zhernov had caused pain and distress to the dog and if it was unreasonable to do so.

Defence lawyer Michael Bott warned the jury not to jump to conclusions.

Zhernov began carrying oven cleaner to protect himself after his mother was bitten some years before, he said.

Zhernov felt threatened by the dog and said it had bitten his boots. He had tried to fight it off, with a walking stick but ended up spraying it in the eyes, Bott said.

He told the jury that self-defence was the reason for what happened.

Wellington District Court judge Chris Tuohy told the jury it was an unusual case for a jury, brought under the Animal Welfare Act.

The trial is expected to finish tomorrow.

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- The Dominion Post

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