A man who sprayed oven cleaner in the eyes of a dog he thought was attacking him has been found guilty of ill-treating an animal and ordered to do community work and pay vet bills.
Wellington District Court judge Chris Tuohy today sentenced Sergey Zhernov, 59, immediately after the verdict, allowing the jury to see the end result of the trial. He gave him 75 hours' community work and told him to pay the bills totalling $263.40.
Zhernov had pleaded not guilty to the charge, saying his actions were self-defence against a dog that was attacking him.
The charge carried a maximum of one year's jail or a fine of $25,000.
Zhernov sprayed Toko, a 10-year-old staffordshire bull terrier-labrador cross at Ascot Park on January 8 last year. The dog had approached him in an off-leash area of the park.
Zhernov had been carrying safety goggles and a modified spray can of Easy-Off oven cleaner.
Toko's eye was ulcerated. Her owner, Donna Peheirangi had said the dog was not aggressive and had not been threatening Zhernov.
Zhernov had said he was attacked and was in fear of his life.
His lawyer, Michael Bott, said his client was unlikely to ever commit such a crime again and had no previous convictions.
Zhernov spent his time looking after his 85-year-old mother and taking walks, Bott said.
Judge Tuohy asked to be reassured that Zhernov would not be out and about looking for dogs again while carrying the spray can.
Bott, who had yet to speak to his client, said Zhernov still went for walks but did not take the spray can.
Judge Tuohy said it appeared Zhernov had had some bad experiences with dogs, but that did not justify what he had done.
Zhernov had armed himself with the spray and used safety goggles, which indicated a knowledge that he knew the spray could cause damage to the eyes.
The judge said he did not think it was a deliberate act of cruelty.